Robert Mugabe, President, Zimbabwe

It is thanks to its president that Zimbabwe's privately-owned print media are constantly harassed and that the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has a monopoly of radio and TV broadcasting. Robert Mugabe blocks everything, prevents the national unity government from functioning properly, makes sure the independent media are unable to express themselves freely and, with the help of his closest aides, keeps the state media under tight control.

Mugabe stepped up the pressure on the media after his government's electoral setbacks in 2008. Editors were placed under electronic surveillance to check their loyalty to the party, while opposition activists were abducted and tried for "terrorist plots" in grotesque trials.

Despite being hailed as a "liberator" when he came to power in the 1980s, Mugabe has no problem with the arbitrary arrests and harassment to which most of the country's journalists are exposed. In 2002, he was the architect of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the sole aim of which was to finish off the privately-owned press, above all The Daily News, then the country's most widely-read daily. In 2011, "the old man" was preparing for the next elections – for which a date has yet to be set – by continuing to curtail free speech.


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