Media Commission Bill hearings begin

Farirai Machivenyika Senor Reporter

Parliament will from today begin public consultations on the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill aimed at promoting freedom of expression and communication as enshrined in the Constitution.

The Bill is one of three that will repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The other two Bills include Freedom of Information Bill and and Data Protection Bill.

In a statement yesterday, Parliament said the first meeting would be held in Gweru today at Gweru Theatre.

The other meetings are scheduled for Bulawayo tomorrow at Rainbow Hotel, Masvingo at the Civic Centre on Wednesday, Mutare at Queens Hall the following day and, lastly, at the Parliament Building on Friday.

“The Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services will hold public consultations on the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill (H.B 8 2019) from 14 to 18 October 2019,” reads part of the statement from Parliament.

“All those who will be putting on military uniforms, signs of ranks, flags or badges and political party regalia will not have access to the public hearings.

“The public, interested groups and organisations are invited to attend these consultations.”

According to the memorandum of the ZMC Bill, its objective is to protect the rights to freedom of expression and media as conferred by the Constitution.

“The Bill will also extensively amend AIPPA (Chapter 10:27) by repealing all provisions relating to the regulation and control of the media,” reads the statement.

Clause 8 of the Bill provides for the investigation by the commission, of any violation which can be investigated under this proposed law.

“The investigation may be a complaint made to the commission or may be instigated by the commission itself if it thinks that a violation has or is likely to occur. A complaint must be submitted to the commission within three years of the occurrence of the action complained of. The Bill shall, however, not apply to actions which took place prior to its promulgation. Investigations will not extend to matters which maybe before the courts or before any other independent commission,” reads the Bill.

Clause 9 provides for the procedure for the submission of complaints and the obligations of the commission where it declines to investigate. Clause 10 provides for the conduct of investigations or hearings and some inquiries could be held in camera when necessary.

“Under Clause 11, the commission may grant any person, who has an interest in a matter before it, an opportunity to make representations at the proceedings or to have access to or comment on any representations made at any of its proceedings.

“The commission is required to conclude any matter in the shortest possible time, especially where time is of the essence in such a matter. Where it is essence, matters should be concluded within 60 days,” reads the Bill.

In terms of Clause 13, enforcement of orders of the commission could be achieved through registration of such orders with the High Court.

“If an order is registered, it is enforceable as any judgment of the High Court,” the Bill reads.

Clause 14 requires any member of the commission who might have a conflict of interest with respect to any matter before it to recuse himself or herself.

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