This is the 15th edition of So This is Democracy? This annual publication comes at a time when the southern African region still faces significant challenges around the respect and enjoyment of media and freedom of expression rights. In 2008 MISA issued 163 alerts. The highest number, 60, were from Zimbabwe as has become the trend over the past eight years. MISA Regional Secretariat expresses its appreciation to information officers in 11 of our national chapters in the region. This publication is a combined effort of MISA and its national chapters. Recording alerts, as part of monitoring the media environment and informing our work in the region, is a key function of MISA. Serious violations were recorded in Tanzania with the attacks on journalists and closure of Mwanahalisi newspaper. South Africa grabbed the limelight for the wrong reasons with the continuing South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) saga. So This is Democracy? remains a valuable record of the media environment in the region, and MISA hopes that this publication will be used as a research and advocacy tool by civic society and the media to push for positive media reforms. MISA would welcome feedback on this publication so that we can continue to respond to the needs of our stakeholders in the region and internationally. So This is Democracy? State of media freedom in southern Africa 2008 Annual publication of the Media Institute of southern Africa (MISA) State of media freedom in southern Africa 2008 MISA witnessed some positive strides in the region in past year, with the political changes in Zimbabwe giving us cautious hope. We hope that Zimbabwe can make a turn from its past of political violence, economic decline and suffering that has been ongoing since 2000. At the same time we also hope that the new Zambian government will take steps to finally pass media laws already approved by the previous government. As five countries in the region head to the polls in 2009, we hope that these processes can happen in a peaceful environment where media and freedom of expression rights are respected. Without a free media and access to information, no electoral process can be called free and fair. Media Institute of Southern Africa State of media freedom in southern Africa, 2008 So This is Democracy? So This is Democracy?