Dear Prime Minister,
Reporters Without Borders would like to congratulate you on taking office on 13 February as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe’s new government of national unity.
As you know, our organisation is very concerned about the many violations of human rights and press freedom that have taken place in Zimbabwe in recent years.
Reporters Without Borders therefore calls on you as Prime Minister to demonstrate a genuine political will to restore the rule of law. We think that the Zimbabwean government currently being formed should, as a matter of urgency, take the following three measures.
Firstly, we urge you to take effective action to obtain the release of all political prisoners, including journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko and press photographer Shadreck Manyere. Your government should guarantee that no journalist is henceforth imprisoned in connection with their work.
Secondly, we ask you to adopt thorough reforms that guarantee press freedom and commit Zimbabwe to democratisation. We think that it is essential that your government should repeal that press law known as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which was adopted in 2002. The Interception of Communications Act should also be repealed in order to guarantee Zimbabweans’ civil and political freedoms. Adopted on 3 August 2007, this law allows the government and the police to tap phone calls and intercept email messages and faxes without requesting permission from a judge.
Finally, we urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the Daily News, which was Zimbabwe’s leading independent newspaper, is able to resume publishing. The previous authorities always managed to prevent this, despite several court rulings in its favour. This newspaper’s reappearance on the newsstands would send a clear signal of the government’s determination to promote media diversity and independence.
Reporters Without Borders stands ready to make its expertise available to the Prime Minister’s office in achieving these goals.
We thank you in advance for giving our requests your careful consideration.