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Media regulation and legal frameworks in Swaziland and Zimbabwe
Beatrice Mtetwa
Extracted from: Osisa - Openspace - The Media: expression and freedom
December 2006

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Swaziland and Zimbabwe are alike in more ways than they are different. For a start, both are members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and as such both have agreed to be bound by that body's Protocols, Principles and Treaties that deal with certain basic freedoms which include freedom of expression and freedom of the media. These include the SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport, whose Article 20 provides that "State Parties shall take necessary measures to ensure the freedom and independence of the media". In addition, both are bound by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections whose Article 7.4 tasks member states with the responsibility to "Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression, and campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders..." They are also members of the African Union, whose African Charter on Human and People's Rights provides, through Article 9, for freedom of expression and information in all facets. So, from a regional and continental perspective, both countries have committed themselves to the principles of freedom of expression, information and the media.

Both countries' constitutions have provisions that deal with freedom of expression. Swaziland's long-awaited constitution, assented to by the King in July 2005 and made operational in February 2006, provides for freedom of expression and freedom of the media in its Section 24. Section 20 of the Zimbabwean constitution also provides for the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression which includes "freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with correspondence."

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