Media watchdogs in southern Africa are calling on the governments of Angola, Eswatini and Zimbabwe to do more to protect press freedom following the publication of the Freedom in the World 2022 Report which says those countries are among the most oppressive authorities to media in the region.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa said it was concerned that Eswatini and Zimbabwe authorities were strangling the media as published in the recent Freedom in the World 2022 Report.
Tabani Moyo is the director of Media Institute of Southern Africa.
“Eswatini is stubborn or notorious for shutting internet twice in 2021 alone in response to protests in that country. Zimbabwe is mainly not free considering issues around proposals on the regulation of the (inter)net. But also remember that Zimbabwe is in the process of introducing the amendment of the Criminal Law Codification Reforms Act which seeks to criminalize the engagement of citizens with [foreign] embassies. Angola is in election season, its behavior, we will be watching closely. But also of interest were countries that were from southern Africa in terms of internet freedom,” said Moyo.
That was reference to Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Zambia, in 2021 August, shut down internet during elections. Zimbabwe throttled the internet during this month when political parties were starting campaigning. Then you have a little bit of progression in South Africa, which is still within the free nations. And Angola being one of the countries on the look out due to the election season. Beginning of the year, I wrote projections on state of the freedom in southern Africa, and this report tallies (with) what I projected and actually affirming projections around trends that were likely going to see in 2022,” said Moyo.
Kindness Paradza, Zimbabwe deputy information minister dismissed the report saying it is “nonsense. Who has been harassed, detained, jailed or killed in the last 12 months?” he asked.
Tafadzwa Mugwadi is from Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF party.
“Government has done adequate reforms to ensure that our journalists and media house continue to enjoy the space thus so far open in Zimbabwe under the second republic it is therefore mischievous, erroneous and a dangerous lie by the Freedom House to allege that there is no freedom of the media in Zimbabwe,” said Mugwadi.
When President Mnangagwa took over from the late Robert Mugabe in 2017 he promised that citizens would enjoy all freedoms enshrined in the Zimbabwe constitution. But his critics say that promise is still far from being a reality.