MP takes aim at Aippa

HARARE - Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya (MDC) is set to introduce a Private Members Bill named Media Freedom and Transparency Bill in Parliament aimed at replacing the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

Speaking to journalists during a workshop in Harare yesterday, Chikwinya said he was in the process of finishing consultations with media stakeholders for input into the bill, dealing with media and journalists’ operations.

“It seeks to replace Aippa as every journalist knows how it has been used to curtail media freedom, and criminalising the profession,” Chikwinya said.

“This is one of the outreach programmes I am undertaking as I have support of Members of Parliament from Zanu PF and MDC.

“On Thursday, I had discussions with legislators of the media and information portfolio committee, who gave me all the support to move this Bill in Parliament,” said Chikwinya.

The MP, who is chairperson of the media and information portfolio, said his committee had agreed with minister of Information Webster Shamu that he was to bring amendments in Parliament that were to improve Aippa, but this has not been done so far.

“I am going to be using my parliamentary privileges and introduce the Bill, as this is the view of the public as they want to see the democratisation of the media, and I have decided to take it upon myself and deal with the issues of media,” said Chikwinya.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the Private Members Bill given that in Parliament’s fourth session, minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chimanasa shot down another motion to debate the Public Order and Security (Posa) Amendment Bill moved by MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese saying that the issue is under discussion in the Global Political Agreement talks.  

Aippa was introduced a decade ago by the former minister of Information Jonathan Moyo and has been used selectively.

The law was used in the banning of the Daily News in September 2003, and persecution of journalists working for private media.

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