The ruling by Zimbabwe constitutional court on criminal defamation is a strong step towards democracy and law reinforcement, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) said today.
According to FAJ affiliate, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the constitutional court of the country has on 12 June 2014, ruled that the criminal defamation law must be struck of the statutes.
The law was challenged by two journalists Nevanji Madanhire and Nqaba Matshazi following their arrest in November 2011 on the grounds that they stole confidential documents from the office of lawmaker Munyaradzi Kereke.
Madanhire was editor of the The Standard weekly at the time while Matshazi was the reporter who wrote an article that stated that lawmaker Munyaradzi Kereke’s company was on the verge of collapsing.
The court ruled in favor of journalists Nevanji Madanhire and Nqaba Matshazi and stated that the clause providing for criminal defamation was unconstitutional as it violated the rights of Zimbabweans to freedom of expression.
FAJ joins its affiliate the ZUJ to applaud the ruling by the constitutional court on criminal defamation. “The ruling by the constitutional court can be viewed as a step towards creating an environment where journalists are able to operate professionally and effectively without any hindrances,” Mohamed Garba FAJ President said.
ZUJ commends the role played by The Standardnewspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi in challenging a law which went against the rights of journalists to disseminate information and that had for long interfered with the work of media practitioners in Zimbabwe.
ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi said: “It is a great day for Journalism and Press Freedom in which there is now recognition that a simple dispute is not solved using police and other tools to harass journalists but through civilized routes such as the civil one.”