Zim journalist challenges ban by media commission

A well-known Zimbabwean journalist is challenging a year-long work ban imposed on him by the state media commission despite the recent relaxation of press laws, it was reported on Thursday.

Lawyers for Brian Hungwe gave the Media and Information Commission (MIC) until Wednesday to lift a ban on the reporter, the private Financial Gazette newspaper said.

In February, the MIC banned Hungwe, who has worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and British Broadcasting Corporation, from working as a journalist for a year. The ban was backdated to August 2007 and is to remain in force until August 2008.

The MIC said it imposed the ban because Hungwe was working without a press card, according to the Financial Gazette.

But recent amendments to Zimbabwe’s tough media law—the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)—have since technically done away with the MIC.

Under agreements reached through South African-brokered talks, the body was supposed to be replaced by a new nine-member Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is still to be set up.

“We request you to confirm urgently that the blanket ban on our client is ineffective and that there is no impediment to his practice as a journalist,” Hungwe’s lawyer Selby Hwacha said in a letter to the MIC.

The matter will be taken to court if the ban is not lifted, Hwacha said.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has warned that other journalists working in Zimbabwe “are likely to be similarly victimised” ahead of elections on March 29. ‒ Sapa-DPA



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