Page not yet turned on Mugabe era
Installed as president in November 2017 and then elected to the position in July 2018, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe’s former vice-president, pledged to reinforce the pillars of democracy including the media, which were harassed and gagged for 37 years under his dictatorial predecessor. However, Mnangagwa was notorious for suppressing dissent when he was national security minister and his first steps with regard to press freedom have been marked more by promises than concrete progress. Access to information has improved and self-censorship has declined, but many journalists were subjected to violence during the 2018 presidential elections, often by members of the security forces and sometimes by political activists. The security apparatus has not yet lost the habit of harassing journalists and acts of intimidation, verbal attacks and confiscation of equipment are all still standard practice. The blocking of social media at the start of 2019, when major protests against a fuel price hike were being organized, shows that the regime has not renounced the use of cyber-censorship to prevent information from circulating. Extremely harsh media laws are still in effect and, when new laws have been adopted, their provisions are just as draconian as those they replaced. Journalists are worried about a cyber-crime bill that is being drafted because it would allow the security apparatus to legally spy on private conversations. The army chief’s reference to social media as a “threat to national security” has reinforced their fears.
127 in 2019
42.23 in 2019