held under public bodies is not easily accessible as public bodies are quick to invoke their statutory and or
security provisions.
A case in point is that of Hitschmann v City of Mutare & Anor.3 The summary facts are: Hitschmann
(applicant) applied for certain land to be allocated to him by the City of Mutare (city). The city responded
that the land was reserved for the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). Applicant applied again after hearing
that ZRP were no longer exercising their right over the land. The city informed applicant that land was no
longer for sale and now classified as open land not subject for sale. The applicant then discovered that the
land was sold but had not been informed of the process. The applicant then requested access to information
pertaining to the sale, of which the city council failed to respond to the application as provided for under
Section 5 (1) of AIPPA. The applicant then approached the High Court for relief as informed by Section 4
(1) of the Administrative Justice Act 4 , which entitles a person who is aggrieved by the failure of an
administrative authority to apply to the High Court for relief.
The court held that:
If the courts fail to give effect to these constitutional provisions that promotes transparency and accountability
by public bodies, then the ability of citizens to hold public actors to account will be violated. Section 3 (1)
(a) of the Administrative Justice Act enjoin an authority as the respondent to act lawfully, reasonably and in
a fair manner in taking administrative actions which may affect the rights, interests or legitimate expectations
of any persons …
Zimbabwe has ratified several International and Regional Instruments that provide for the right to access to
information. Of importance are the International Covenant on the Civil and Political rights and the African
Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Article 19 of the ICCPR and Article 9 of the ACHPR are instructive
on the right to information. In the current Constitution, the legislature has clearly provided for the right to
information even from public bodies.

The court ordered the city to provide:
The applicant with the records and documents showing that they complied with Section 152 (b) of the Urban
Councils Act, that is to say, the advertisement and the notice published relating to the sale and alienation of
the land.

AIPPA also restricts the right to access information to just citizens and residents of Zimbabwe.
Foreignbased organisations including media entities, even local ones that are not registered, do not have a


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