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Law Handbook for Southern Africa – Zimbabwe chapter
August 25, 2013
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Zimbabwe became the then British colony of Southern Rhodesia in
1923. In 1965, the leader, Ian Smith, made a unilateral declaration
of independence as Rhodesia, which was immediately declared illegal
by Great Britain. In the late 1960s and during the 1970s, armed
liberation movements launched an internal guerrilla war of liberation.
In 1979, Ian Smith’s government was forced to the negotiating
table at Lancaster House, where agreement was reached on a democratic
was the first democratically elected leader of Zimbabwe, which has
a population of approximately 12 million people. Some 30 years down
the line, however, the United States State Department’s 2010
Human Rights Report on Zimbabwe believes that the past four elections
in 2002, 2005, 2008 and the presidential
run-off elections also in 2008 were ‘not free and fair’.
Zimbabwe’s declining gross domestic product, inflation woes,
declining life expectancy rates, political violence and generally
low levels of political freedom, including freedom of the press
and other media, are well documented.
In 2008, the
Political Agreement, a power-sharing agreement was entered into
between the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriot
Front (Zanu-PF), and both factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). This power-sharing arrangement resulted in a new Constitution
being negotiated and endorsed in a national
referendum in March 2013. At the time of writing, the date for
the proposed elections remains to be finalised. In addition, there
are still worrying examples of political violence and widespread
doubts as to whether there is a genuine commitment to free and fair
elections on the part of Zimbabwe’s ruling party.
introduces working journalists and other media practitioners to
the legal environment governing media operations in Zimbabwe. The
chapter is divided into five sections:
- Media and
- Media self-regulation
common law based on decided cases
The aim of this
chapter is to equip the reader with an understanding of the main
laws governing the media in Zimbabwe. Key weaknesses and deficiencies
in these laws will also be identified. The hope is to encourage
media law reform in Zimbabwe, to better enable the media to fulfil
its role of providing the public with relevant news and information,
and to serve as a vehicle for government - citizen debate and discussion.
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