STAKEHOLDERS in the media industry yesterday commended the Government for repealing the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) saying the development will allow the media unfettered access to information.
The old law was dumped for the new Freedom of Information Act that became law on Wednesday after approval by President Mnangagwa.
The new law provides for real access to information, unlike AIPPA.
They said the repealing of AIPPA, which had been roundly criticised, was done after robust debate that involved various stakeholders.
The scrapping of AIPPA gives rise to three new laws: the Access to Information Act, and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and the Protection of Personal Information/Data Protection Bill.
Each tackles specific areas once covered by AIPPA, but in a constitutional way that encourages media integrity and openness and which allows maximum access to public sector information, while still protecting specified personal and other data.
The main test is that protection of information and data can only that allowed in an open democratic society.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Foster Dongozi commended Government for scrapping AIPPA.
“The process of scrapping AIPPA was done after wide consultation with all media stakeholders including media unions, media rights groups, civic society groups and media experts, among others.
“The process of consultations was done fairly and the debates were very robust,” he said.
Dongozi applauded Government for investing heavily in the process of repealing AIPPA.
Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (Zinef) national coordinator Njabulo Ncube said the repealing of AIPPA represented an incremental move towards what the media in Zimbabwe had been fighting for, that there be a law that did not criminalise the journalism profession.
Media analyst Letty Mabhena said: “Thumbs up to the new dispensation for leading such a noble process and dumping repressive laws. The new law will go a long way in providing the legal frameworks and mechanisms for accessing information from public and private bodies.”
Another analyst, Paidamoyo Mutsvairo thanked President Mnangagwa for spearheading the process of repealing AIPPA.
“The repressive AIPPA is gone for good. The new dispensation has nothing to hide at all. Thank you President Mnangagwa.”
The new Act, a giant step forward in the reform agenda, repeals the long-criticised AIPPA and brings Zimbabwe’s information-related laws into conformity with the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution.
The initial draft went through a long examination and multi-party amendment process by Parliament, and especially through the relevant portfolio committee, which is chaired by an opposition MP.