The future of the Daily News remained unclear after the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on the paper’s challenge that some of the provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act under which it was banned in September 2003 were unconstitutional.
The court did not give any indication of when the ruling would be made.
The Media and Information Commission which has the responsibility of registering media houses appealed against a ruling by the Administrative Court that the paper should be allowed to publish.
The Supreme Court accepted the arguments of Eric Matinenga and Chris Andersen,lawyers for Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the Daily News, that ANZ was entitled to challenge the constitutionality of AIPPA since it had complied with the provisions of AIPPA by applying to the MIC for registration.
The Supreme Court had rejected ANZ’s constitutional challenge of AIPPA in September 2003 because it had not registered as a media house and was coming to the court with “dirty hands”.
Viewing cable 04HARARE409, SUPREME COURT RESERVES JUDGMENT ON ANZ
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
051040Z Mar 04
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000409
AF/PD FOR DFOLEY, CDALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT RESERVES JUDGMENT ON ANZ
REF: A. HARARE 315
¶B. HARARE 302
¶C. HARARE 223
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (U) SUMMARY: On March 3, the Supreme Court reserved
judgment on the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)
consolidated appeal (Ref C). The court gave no indication of
when it would give its ruling. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (U) The hearing consisted of a constitutional challenge by
the ANZ of nine provisions of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and an appeal by the Media
and Information Commission (MIC) against the October 2003
Administrative Court judgment that ANZ could publish and the
MIC was improperly constituted.
¶3. (U) The court accepted ANZ attorneys Eric Matinenga and
Chris Andersen’s arguments that ANZ was entitled to challenge
the constitutionality of AIPPA since it had complied with the
provisions of AIPPA by applying to the MIC for registration.
The Supreme Court had rejected ANZ’s constitutional challenge
of AIPPA in September 2003 because it had not registered as a
media house and was coming to the court with “dirty hands”.
¶4. (U) Challenging nine provisions of AIPPA, but focusing on
the provisions that compel media houses to register with the
MIC, ANZ attorneys argued that AIPPA’s wording makes
registration more than a mere formality. On February 5 the
Supreme Court ruled that the provision in AIPPA that
compelled journalists to seek accreditation was
constitutional since it was a “mere formality”. ANZ
attorneys also argued that AIPPA grants Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo unreasonable power to appoint, suspend and
dismiss any member of the MIC.
¶5. (U) In its appeal against the October 2003 Administrative
Court decision that ANZ could publish, that MIC should have
registered ANZ, and that MIC was improperly constituted, MIC
attorney Johannes Tomana argued that the court should have
referred the matter back to the MIC for further
consideration, instead of allowing the ANZ to publish without
¶6. (SBU) ANZ lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu said the ANZ legal team
was happy with the court,s attitude towards ANZ,s
constitutional challenge. He thought there was a good chance
the court might strike down some sections of AIPPA concerning
registration of media houses. He described the courtroom as
a “positive atmosphere” and said the judges subjected MIC
attorney Tomana to intense questioning.
¶7. (SBU) Mahlangu was not pleased, however, with the court’s
reaction to the MIC appeal of the October 2003 Administrative
Court decision. He commented that the court appeared to be
inclined to refer ANZ’s registration and the constitution of
MIC back to MIC for further consideration.
¶8. (SBU) The Supreme Court ruling, whenever it comes, will be
an important chapter in the fate of ANZ. However, even if
ANZ were successful in striking down some parts of AIPPA,
past experience suggests that the GOZ would simply pass new
provisions that maintain and bolster AIPPA’s controlling
features. If indeed the Court refered ANZ’s registration
back to MIC, and in any event with a delayed decision on the
constitutionality of the AIPPA provisions concerning
registration, the prospects for TDN to hit the streets any
time soon appear very unlikely.