Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Con Court deals criminal defamation fatal blow

The Constitutional Court yesterday ruled that criminal defamation must be repealed because it is undemocratic, following an application by local journalists, Nevanji Madanhire and Nqaba Matshazi.

Con Court deals criminal defamation fatal blow
Con Court deals criminal defamation fatal blow

The two, who were editor and reporter at the Standard, respectively, were being charged with defaming Munyaradzi Kereke, the chairperson of a Green Card, a health institution, over a story the publication carried in 2011.

The State had accused the journalists of breaching Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, but they sought permanent stay of prosecution and repeal of the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional.

Led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, judges who deliberated on the matter unanimously agreed that criminal defamation was unjustified and violated people’s freedom of expression, in addition to suppressing the media.

Instead, the court ruled, aggrieved people could file civil suits against journalists, which they said provided enough legal recourse.

A final order to strike off the law is likely, and the court invited the justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to oppose yesterday’s ruling if he wished.

Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, has already acknowledged that criminal defamation has no place in a modern democracy. The Zimbabwean