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Zimbabwe11 November 2004

Authorities tighten vice on journalists in amendment to press law

The authorities in Zimbabwe continue to flout the right to news and information, Reporters Without Borders said today. Compounding a recent ban on opposition access to the state media, parliament has now passed an amendment to the already extremely repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Proposed by President Mugabe’s right-hand man, information minister Jonathan Moyo, the amendment provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine for any journalist who tries to work without being accredited with the government’s Media and Information Commission (MIC).

"The all-out censorship imposed by the Mugabe regime shows no sign of stopping," Reporters Without Borders said. "This amendment will facilitate the imprisonment of intractable journalists and is further evidence of the government’s opposition to freedom and democracy."

Accusing Zimbabwe of caring nothing about the commitments it has given to its partners in southern Africa, Reporters Without Borders said, "we once again urgently call on South Africa to demand an explanation from Harare."

Passed with the votes of the ruling Zanu-PF party and condemned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the amendment reinforces the absolute power which the Media and Information Commission now exercises over journalists and the news media. All of the commission’s members are appointed by the government.

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