(Jan. 2, 2008) On December 18, 2007, Zimbabwe's government introduced proposed amendments to the laws on security and on the media. The changes were introduced in Parliament by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, as part of a political deal involving the ruling ZANU-PF Party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The opposition has criticized the government for its implementation of the Public Order and Security Act, arguing that the law has been used to ban protest rallies. The media regulations, it has been said, have been used to expel a dozen foreign correspondents and shut down four independent newspapers. According to MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, "a wholesale package not piecemeal amendments" would have been preferable, but that party "remains committed to the process of dialogue." (Government Introduces Amendments to Security, Media Laws, AFP, Dec. 18, 2007, Open Source Center No. AFP20071218508002.)
The changes would permit foreign media ownership, although foreign journalists will still be barred from working permanently in Zimbabwe. A change in the security rules will permit political parties wanting to hold public gatherings to submit a request to a magistrate, if police turn down a permit application. Under present regulations, such requests can be appealed only to the Minister of Home Affairs. The MDC has suggested that since the Minister is part of the government and a member of the dominant party, that procedure would not be impartial. (Zimbabwe Adopts Changes to Media, Security Laws, ZWNEWS.COM, Dec. 19, 2007, available at http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID=17944.)