Flag_of_Zimbabwe.svgThe Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. It borders South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east and northeast. Formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe Rhodesia, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia in 1965. Since then, the state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces, which later ended in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty in April 1980. The country is noted as one of the African countries with a problematic and questionable human rights record.

At – a – glance

Capital: Harare

Official language(s): English, Shona, Ndebele

President: Robert Mugabe (since 1950)

Population: 14.15 (2004)

National anthem: Blessed be the land of Zimbabwe

The Media & Freedom of Expression (FoE) landscape in Zimbabwe

The 2013 constitution on Declaration of Rights protects freedom of the expression and the media. However, there are several repressive laws which make it almost impossible for this freedom to be fully enjoyed by the citizens and media persons. There are the Official Secrets Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which are yet to be reformed under the new constitution. These laws place a restriction on what journalists may publish and also mandate harsh punishment for anybody who fails to adhere to the laws. In April 2014 for instance, the editor of NewsDay newspaper, was charged with violating the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (CLCRA) when he published allegations naming the police as being responsible for the death of a child.

Also, while the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has been processing applications for new private radio stations and after issuing two new private radio licenses to ZANU-PF-affiliated stations in 2012, it has not offered new licenses for community radio stations, which tend to be independent and often antigovernment, nor has it taken any steps to license private television broadcasters.

There have also been instances where the offices and homes of journalists have been ransacked and journalists charged with terrorism. For this reason, journalists are intimidated and likely to engage in self-censorship to avoid such harassments. For more information on the state of FoE in Zimbabwe, visit Freedom House

Media Regulatory Bodies in Zimbabwe

Regarding the institutions which regulate how the media operate in the country, there is the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) which is state-owned and state controlled. It is the body in charge of issuing licenses to media operators. There is also the Zimbabwean Union of Journalists (ZUJ) whose objectives are to protect and promote the works of journalists and media workers. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is the primary advocate for media freedom and freedom of expression in the sub-region. It is independent.