Government set to amend restrictive new media law

New York, January 17, 2002—After a week of intense international pressure, Zimbabwe’s government delayed its vote yesterday on a harsh media bill that would stifle dissent during the run-up to the presidential elections, scheduled for early March, until certain changes can be made to the legislation, according to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

“After some lengthy consultations with objective-minded media organizations and deliberation with honourable members on my side, I have suggested some amendements to the Access to Information and Privacy Bill,” Chinamasa told parliament yesterday.

The proposed changes would include letting foreign correspondents into Zimbabwe to cover “specific events,” and not forcing journalists to register with the government. However, journalists would still have to comply with a vaguely defined accreditation system.

Chinmasa said Information Minister Jonathan Moyo would consider the changes before the legislation is debated in parliament next week. CPJ continues to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe closely.