Southern African region joins Zimbabwe in dismal press rankings

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Press freedom rankings conducted by Freedom House, an international watchdog has revealed that Zimbabwe is still ranked as the lowest in the
Southern African region.

Although the indictment indicates a lack of progress under the inclusive government the 2010 Press Freedom shows that Zimbabwe has made slight
improvements over the past year.

This sees the southern African country jump five places up the official ranking which rates countries from “free” to “partly free” to “not free.”

Overall, Zimbabwe sits at joint 181st out of 196 countries, only just making it out of the bottom ten “worst of the worst” countries for press freedom.

This means that although Zimbabwe has more press freedom than North
Korea, it shares 181st position with war torn Somalia and is ranked worse than Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan.

In its report, Freedom House said: “Despite constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, officials display an openly hostile attitude towards media freedom, and a draconian legislative framework continues to effectively inhibit the activities of journalists and media outlets.”

The official ranking is a clear sign of the lack of progress made in Zimbabwe since the formation of the unity government more than a year ago. The coalition vowed to improve the conditions under which the media operate, but only a token effort has been made.

Although Journalists are being accredited, many face outrageous fees, and whilst some independent newspapers now have licences, the broadcast space remains closed to independent radio.

The press freedom survey paints a grim picture in the entire Southern African region, highlighting surprising changes in South Africa and Namibia, which both dropped from being “free” to only “partly free” in terms of the media. Freedom House said this leaves “no free countries in southern Africa for the first time since 1990.”

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