Four Harare based journalists on Thursday took the government to court,
challenging the legal status of the Media and Information Commission
(MIC), reports Tichaona Sibanda for SW Radio Africa.

The Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity last week instructed that all journalists wishing to cover the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit, set to start on Sunday in Victoria Falls, must be accredited by the MIC. But the freelance journalists Stanley Gama, Stanley Kwenda, Jealous Mawarire and Valentine Maponga, are arguing that in terms of AIPPA, as amended in January 2008, the MIC led by Tafataona Mahoso no longer exists.

Gama, who is also the chairman of the journalists Quill club in Harare, told us it was ridiculous for the state to ask them to register with a non-existent body. ‘It’s a fight we are taking to the High Court today (Thursday),’ he said.

The hearing in Judge Bharat Patel’s chambers just lasted under an hour. The judge deferred the hearing to Friday, after the legal counsel representing the government said they didn’t have enough time to consult with their clients.

Thabani Moyo, the Media Institute (MISA) advocacy officer for Zimbabwe told us that Information Minister Webster Shamu, plus the permanent secretary in the ministry, George Charamba and Tafataona Mahoso, are the first, second and third respondents in the matter. The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is cited as the fourth respondent in the matter in his official capacity as the person responsible for the executive arm of the inclusive government and in charge of ensuring the proper implementation of both the law and policy.

‘Minister Shamu was said to be busy with state duties accompanying King Mswati who is on a state visit to the country. Charamba is attending a funeral, so their counsels argued that they needed more time to enable them to get instructions from their clients,’ Moyo said.

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