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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 February, 2004, 22:00 GMT
The Law in Zimbabwe
The laws in Zimbabwe make it difficult for people to talk freely about anything to do with the ruling Zanu PF party.

Draconian rules passed in January 2002 made it an imprisonable offence for speaking out against the president.

These laws are upheld by Zimbabwean police and the feared Central Intelligence Organisation.

The Public Order bill means that anyone seeking to "undermine the authority of the president" or "engender hostility" towards him faces a fine of up to 20,000 dollars or up to two years in jail.

Under this act it is illegal to "disturb the peace, security and order of the public", which includes public gatherings "to conduct riots, disorder or intolerance".

Privacy Act

The Public Order bill police are given powers to arrest anyone at a public meeting not in possession of an identity card.

Senior police officers will have powers to control and disperse public gatherings and crowds whenever they deem it reasonable to do so.

This makes it difficult to hold any kind of meeting or gathering without breaking the law.

The press in Zimbabwe can fall foul of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which came into effect in March 2002.


It means that journalists can be arrested and tried for "denigrating, bringing into hatred or contempt or ridicule or to excite disaffection against the president, the law enforcement agents or the administration of justice in Zimbabwe."

Journalists found to have published "falsehoods" can be fined up to US$1,900 and jailed for up to two years

Under these new media laws, it is also a criminal offence for a reporter to work without proper accreditation.

Only Zimbabwean citizens or permanent residents can become correspondents for foreign news organisations operating in the country.

Shut down

Almost all of the media is state owned. One exception is the independent Daily News newspaper, which was first published in 1999.

The paper was shut down by the Government in September 2003 but resumed publishing a month later, after a court ruling.

However, the paper closed again, one day after the Supreme Court ruled, on February 5, 2004, that the government could stop journalists who were working without official accreditation.

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