Mnangagwa defends criminal defamation law

HARARE - Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Justice minister, yesterday defended action that makes defamation a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of journalists.

Parliamentarians accused authorities of tightening curbs on free expression in the wake of corruption exposes.

Parliamentarians condemned the arrest of Daily News group editor Stanley Gama and senior writer Fungi Kwaramba under criminal defamation laws, saying the statute was now archaic and outdated.

Gama  and Kwaramba were arrested at the instigation  of  controversial businessman Kamal Khalfan over stories linking  the Omani tycoon  to alleged  underhand  deals in the country.

The arrest of the newsmen has been condemned by the media fraternity and other lawmakers.

Nelson Chamisa,  Kuwadzana East MDC legislator, yesterday quizzed Mnangagwa why the State continues to apply the law selectively. Wary of the chilling effect that these provisions have on a Press wishing to raise legitimate critical voices, he expressed concern that the continued use of criminal defamation would further erode the already limited space for free expression in the country.

“We have witnessed the continuous use of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Section 96 and we have realised the arrest of journalists from Daily News using this section.  When are we going to see the removal of this section which is criminalising the journalism profession? This must be stopped,” Chamisa said to rapturous applause from other legislators.

Mnangagwa defended the use of criminal defamation laws, insisting that the law was here to stay despite constitutional provisions outlawing it.

“We have the criminal defamation law which we shall continue to use as it is part of our law,” Mnangagwa said. “Journalists must learn to be accountable and responsible for their actions and must be answerable.  They can approach the Constitutional Court to have it struck down. Until they have done so, we shall continue to use it.

“These journalists expect government to be accountable without themselves being accountable and this is not the way we operate.” said Mnangagwa as a war of words between the minister and Chamisa over the matter ensued.

Comments (15)

You need to listen to Zhakata's song Sakunatsa to see the irony here “These journalists expect government to be accountable without themselves being accountable and this is not the way we operate.” said Mnangagwa as a war of words between the minister and Chamisa over the matter ensued.

shuus - 10 April 2014

Leonard Zhakata - Sakunatsa

shuus - 10 April 2014

& this man wants to be president? Pity those who support him.

Lt General - 10 April 2014

the govt has never been accountable. vana Munangagwa maiba madiamonds kuDRC muchiuraisa vana vevanhu over your own kukara chete? One day tichakubatai chete!

Tongogara - 10 April 2014

Ngwena caught offside. i think that is why Mugabe was in other words saying Mnangagwa and Mai Mujuru are not presidential material. The constitution has outlawed it but he says the law will remain so constitution of lesser importance to this man. Maybe he has something he is also hiding which he does not want the press to expose, ask Temba Mliswa.

Maita Manyuka - 10 April 2014

Munangagwa count yourself without 1 vote for you. Veeduwe ndimi here aspiring to be the future President, Commander of the Armed Forces and Head of State```muno sapota mitemo yakafa kare so.

matombo - 10 April 2014

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This is the bandit who has perpetuated the existence of zpf by his evil machinations, but I am happy even Mugabe does not see this idiot as presidential material. For the first time, I am beginning to think Jonathan Moyo could make a better president, for he has exhibited qualities of adaptability.

top heavy - 10 April 2014

Jonathan Moyo for president

Oscar Pretorius - 10 April 2014

At least there now seems to be some drop of democracy in ZANU. These guys now have freedom of speech in their party. They attack one another. Defame and despise one another. They are washing their dirty laundry in public. It was Gono vs Kereke. Mugabe vs Masimirembwa. Jonathan Vs Muchechetere. Mnangagwa Vs Mujuru. Mliswa vs Mnangagwa. Mumbengegwi vs Mutsvangwa. Now its Mnangagwa Vs Jonathan. Is this democracy or is it something more than meets the eye. Minister quashes Minister. Deputy Minister quashes his boss the Minister. Junior challenges senior etc. Are these the sides to the factions. The fight is getting nasty and nasty each day. Lets go guys. Zvamakadya zvamuka. Chisingaperi chinoshura. Okungapheliyo kuyahlola. A house divided in itself wont stand. INCLUDING THIS MAD MUD HOUSE ZANU.

mosquito - 10 April 2014 Corruption started edges ago .No one will win the fight as long as Zanu is in power.

Nyikayababa - 10 April 2014

We cannot institutionalise the right to lie nor enshrine it in an unwritten way in our constitutional culture that journalists are allowed to lie. One is only allowed to lie if they are folktale tellers because theirs would be about building caricatures of society in abstraction not people who would want their word to be taken as fact and then that word is permissively a lie. No ways. Are we saying that lying aids effective journalism? Then we are taking the profession to the dustbins because no one will believe any story in the paper. If journalist should be allowed to lie, why not the science teacher? why not me as a parent especially if I am a journalist - why should I tell my children the truth? Nop. The Professor is provoking an unproductive academic debate that no doubt endears him to the journalist fraternity but not to the profession of journalism because both the professor and the journalists will kill journalism in Zimbabwe. I have a lot of respect for the Professor for the other things he has done in the past including teaching me, but I would have him know that I frown at lying especially by journalists because I love the newspaper. I can't even settle down to work before I read my paper. And I don't want every morning to be pending for newspaper lies. like our stance on homosexuality, lets take our very own posture and refuse to tolerate whatever nonsense others tolerate next day.

Kuda Kulungile Cunene - 11 April 2014

Hauna kunzwa chirungu chaMnangagwa. Enda kuchikoro. Hanzi mutemo wenyika unoti vanhu havabvumirwe kunyepa. Mnangagwa atizve kana vatapi venhau vachida kubvumirwa kunyepa ngavaende kuConstitutiona Court vabvisise mutemo uyu mubumbiro redu remutemo nokuti kana uchingovepo ndiwo unoshanda iwowo kunyangwe vanhu vakasauda nokuti mapurisa anotevedzera nekuchengetedza mitemo iripo panguva iyo. That's good presidential material. RULE OF LAW AND NOT OF THE MOB.

Kamburai Gwatinyanya - 11 April 2014

Kuda naKamburai variright. The law of defamation is acceptable. In fact formal studies of journalism, teach about criminal injuria caused by reckless reporting. so it is not as if when a journalist lies they do not know what they are doing or the potential consequences thereof. They do. Sometimes they are paid to peddle lies because of the influence they have in the public. This is called mercenary journalism. Sometimes journalists know they are going to jail as a result of the story they will have published, but that compared to what they pocket, its a sum they can never make in three years of freedom outside prison. Saka avamba twake ndihombarume. Uchi hunodyiwa hahwo asi nyuchi hadziregi kuruma. Kana munhu anyepa ngazive meseredzero wacho. Kunaka kwemhiripiri kuvava.

Gamuchira Mazano - 11 April 2014

Mnangagwa is lame lawyer, your emotions are not bigger than the new constitution which was resoundably voted for by the masses. There is nothing like criminal defamation law in the constitution.

Dr Know - 11 April 2014

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