Voule notes that Zimbabwe was suffering from political polarisation and poor governance at a
time when the worsening economic environment has added to people’s discontent with President
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Civic space continues to deteriorate, re-establishing an environment of fear and persecution, he
further noted.
political context and key events
As highlighted in our 2019 State of the Media Report, the above scenario comes at a time when
the country continues on its socio-economic and political meltdown bringing into question the
government’s commitment to undertake fundamental legislative and economic reforms.
Prices of basic goods continue to spiral with inflation pegged above 700% while the perennial
fuel and cash shortages persist in an economy that is already hurting and is likely to be worsened
by the global COVID-19 pandemic which has seen the country imposing its own lockdown
measures since 30 March 2020.
Several journalists were caught in the crossfire of the implementation of the 21-day national
lockdown, with several of them being harassed assaulted or detained by the police and soldiers
despite the media being declared an essential service in terms of the COVID-19 regulations.
In February this year Reserve Bank Governor, Dr John Mangudya, said foreign direct investment
had fallen from US$717,1 million in 2018 to US$259 million in 2019. According to the World
Economic Outlook Report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Zimbabwe’s
economy will shrink by -7.4% in 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the
pandemic, IMF had forecast GDP growth of 0.8 percent. Post the pandemic, IMF projects 2.5
percent growth for 2021.
Zimbabwe’s humanitarian and economic crises comes at a time when the impasse over the
working conditions and salaries of health workers spilled into 2020 unresolved as witnessed by
the continuous strikes by nurses and doctors in addition to similar actions by the country’s
In the meantime, the government forged ahead with its plans to amend the Constitution
following completion of the public hearings on the Constitution Amendment No.2 Bill.
Contentious sections proposed for amendment, among others, include removal of the presidential
running mate clause, tenure (extension of) office of judges, delimitation of constituencies,
appointment of the Prosecutor General without public interviews and selection of judges without
public interviews.
These proposals were generally rejected during the public hearings. It therefore remains to be
seen whether the will of the people will be respected given that the 2013 Constitution was
endorsed by an overwhelming 94.5% of voters when it was subjected to a referendum.
While the Freedom of Information Act has since been signed into law, the government has since
gazetted the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill, which is strong on surveillance of citizens
and weak on balancing cyber security with the enjoyment of fundamental rights such as free
expression online, privacy and protection of personal data.


Select target paragraph3