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Chapter 11:09

Official Secrets Act

Acts 16/1970, 27/1975 (s. 8); 22/2001 (s. 4), 5/2002 (s. 92); R.G.N. 1308/1973.

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

  1. Short title.
  2. Prohibition of communication of certain information.
  3. Certain acts prejudicial to safety or interests of Zimbabwe prohibited.
  4. Obstructing persons on guard at or loitering near prohibited places.
  5. Harbouring or concealing certain persons and failing to report information relating to foreign agents.
  6. Communication with foreign agent proof of certain facts.
  7. Proof of purpose prejudicial to safety or interests of Zimbabwe.
  8. Authority of Attorney-General required for institution of criminal proceedings.
  9. Extra-territorial application of Act.
  10. Declaration of prohibited place.

 

 

1    Short title

This Act may be cited as the Official Secrets Act [Chapter 11:09].

                       2    Interpretation

(1) In this Act—

document” includes—

  • any book, pamphlet, record, list, placard or poster; or
  • any drawing, sketch, picture, plan or photographic or other representation of a place or thing; or
  • any sound recording or other contrivance for the reproduction of sound;

“enemy” includes a hostile organization;

“foreign agent” includes any person who—

  • is or has been or is reasonably suspected of being or having been, directly or indirectly, employed by the government of a country or a hostile organization for the purpose of committing in Zimbabwe or elsewhere an act prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe; or
  • has or is reasonably suspected of having committed or attempted to commit in Zimbabwe or elsewhere, in the interests of a country other than Zimbabwe or of a hostile organization, an act prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe;

“hostile organization” means—

  • any organization which is an unlawful organization in terms of the Unlawful Organizations Act [Chapter 11:13]; or
  • any other organization operating outside Zimbabwe which is declared by the President, by notice in a statutory instrument, to be a hostile organization on the grounds that it is furthering or encouraging persons to commit acts prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe;

“model” includes a design, pattern or specimen;

“munitions of war” means any article, material or device or any part thereof, whether actual or proposed, intended or adapted for use in war or the defence of Zimbabwe or capable of being adapted for such use;

“prohibited place” means—

(a)   any defence work belonging to, occupied by or used by or on behalf of the State, including—

  • any arsenal, military or air force establishment or station, factory, harbour, camp, ship, vessel or aircraft;
  • any police camp or depot at the time being used for the purposes of defence;
  • any place used for building, repairing, making or keeping munitions of war or any model or document relating thereto;
  • any place where munitions of war or any model or document relating thereto is being built, repaired, made, kept or obtained under contract with or on behalf of the State or of the government of any country other than Zimbabwe;
  • any place declared by the President in terms of section thirteen to be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Act.

(2) References in this Act to—

  • communicating or receiving any thing, shall be construed as including a reference to communicating or receiving any part or the substance, effect or description thereof;
  • obtaining or retaining any thing, shall be construed as including a reference to obtaining or retaining any part or copying or causing to be copied the whole or any part thereof, whether by photographic means or otherwise;
  • communicating any thing, shall be construed as including a reference to the transmission or transfer thereof.

                       3    Espionage

Any person who, for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe— (a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of or enters any prohibited place; or

  • makes any model or document which is calculated to be or which might or is intended to be useful, directly or indirectly, to an enemy; or
  • obtains, collects, records, publishes or communicates to any person—
    • any secret official code or password; or
    • any model, article, document or other information which is calculated to be or which might or is intended to be useful, directly or indirectly, to an enemy;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-five years.

                       4     Prohibition of communication of certain information

(1) Any person who has in his possession or under his control any secret official code or password or any model, article, document or information which—

  • relates to or is used in a prohibited place or relates to any thing in a prohibited place; or
  • has been made or obtained in contravention of this Act; or
  • has been entrusted in confidence to him by a person holding an office in the service of the State; or
  • he has obtained or to which he has had access owing to his position as a person who holds or has held office in the service of the State or as a person who holds or has held a contract made on behalf of the State or a contract the performance of which in whole or in part is carried out in a prohibited place or as a person who is or has been employed under a person who holds or has held such an office or contract;

and who—

  • communicates such code, password, model, article, document or information to any person, other than a person to whom he is authorized to communicate it or a person to whom it is in the interests of Zimbabwe his duty to communicate it; or
  • uses such information in any manner or for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe; or
  • retains such model, article or document in his possession or under his control when he has no right to retain it or when it is contrary to his duty to retain it, or fails to comply with any directions issued by lawful authority with regard to the return or disposal thereof; or
  • fails to take proper care of or so conducts himself as to endanger the safety of such model, article, document, code, password or information;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level fourteen or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

[Subsection amended by section 4 of Act 22 of 2001]

(1a) For the avoidance of doubt it is declared that subsection (1) shall not apply to the disclosure in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27] of any document or information by a person who, being the head of a public body as defined in that Act, has lawful access to the document or information.

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