Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Zimbabwe

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Zimbabwe, February 1998, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Despite an August 1995 Supreme Court ruling against the government's monopoly on telecommunications and cabinet promises to free the airwaves in 1997, radio and television remain government-owned and controlled. So far, however, the state has failed to control the booming sale of satellite dishes by wealthy individuals, and it is just a matter of time before a prospective independent private broadcasting company challenges the constitutionality of current broadcasting laws.

Zimbabwe's independent press is relatively open and critical of President Robert Mugabe's government, but there is still a high degree of self-censorship in both the government-controlled and independent print media, which must navigate a minefield of civil and criminal anti-defamation laws and extremely broad and repressive colonial-era laws restricting access to information.

Unlike a number of other southern African countries, Zimbabwe's constitution provides no explicit protection for freedom of the press, and the current legal climate for the media is one of official secrecy and inaccessibility. An amendment to the Broadcasting Act which would allow independent radio and television stations to operate is expected to gain parliamentary approval sometime in 1998. Three independent television stations are now in operation, but they must buy air time on the government-controlled channel in order to broadcast.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

Search Refworld