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ZIMBABWE MEDIA COMMISSION BILL, 2019
This Bill makes additional provisions with regard to the Zimbabwe Media Commission which is established by section 248 of the Constitution and whose functions are detailed in section 249 of the Constitution with the objective to protect the rights to the freedom of expression and the freedom of the media granted under section 61 of the Constitution. The Bill will also extensively amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27] by repealing all provisions relating to the regulation and control of the media. The Bill must be read with and subject to various provisions of the Constitution such as Part 1 of Chapter 12 relating to the nature of independent commissions supporting democracy of which the Zimbabwe Media Commission is one; Part 1 of Chapter 18 with respect to general and supplementary provisions relating to all constitutional commissions (covering the juristic status of Commissions, terms of office of members, funding of Commissions, etc); section 17 relating to gender balance. These aspects have not been restated in this Bill.
Essentially, the Bill elaborates on the functioning of the Media Commission. For ease of reference, the relevant provisions of Chapter 12 of the Constitution relating to the establishment and functions of the Commission are set out in extenso as a preamble to the Bill. So too is 61 which sets out the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
In more detail, the Bill provides as follows:
Part 1: Preliminary
This Part deals with preliminary matters.
Clause 1 sets out the short title of the Bill as the Zimbabwean Media Commission Bill, 2019.
Clause 2 defines some of the terms used in the Bill. Of significance is the definition of “person” which points to the fact that government and governmental institutions are bound by this Bill.
Part II: Zimbabwe Media Commission and Staff
Clause 3 provides that only the chairperson shall be a fulltime member of the Commission. Clause 4 provides additional functions of the Commission and these relate to ensuring compliance with any laws governing media practitioners and media services and any international instruments to which Zimbabwe is a party. The Commission is also enjoined to work together with other independent constitutional Commissions in supporting human rights and democracy. Other ancillary powers of the Commission are set out in the First Schedule to the Bill (clause 4(2)).
Clause 5 provides for additional matters relating to qualifications, vacation of office and the procedure at meetings of the Commission and these are detailed in the Second Schedule to the Bill.
Clause6providesfortheappointmentoftheDeputyChairpersonoftheCommission who must be of a different gender from the Chairperson.
Clause 7 provides for the appointment by the Commission of an executive Secretary and other staff of the Commission to run the affairs of the Commission but appointments must be made with the approval of the Minister, and the Minister responsible for finance.
Zimbabwe media Commission
The staff of the Commission are not members of the Civil Service but their offices are public offices. The functions of the Secretary are set out in clause 7(3). Under clause 7(4), experts may be appointed to provide such services with respect to the functions of the Commission as the Commission may require.
Part III: Investigations and hearings
Clause 8 of the Bill provides for the investigation by the Commission of any violation which falls to be investigated under this act. The investigation may follow 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 3 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 may be before the courts or before any other independent Commission.