Meanwhile, the recent report by the UN Special Rapporteur, came on the backdrop of his visit
to Zimbabwe on 17 - 27 September 2019 at the invitation of the Government. The purpose of
the visit was to assess the exercise, promotion and protection of the rights under his mandate
in a moment of transition following the adoption of the new Constitution in 2013 and the
recent change of leadership in Zimbabwe.
It is trite to note that the Special Rapporteur, in his report, urges the government to take action
to end corruption, and tellingly, to improve the human rights situation and ensure
accountability and rule of law to encourage the lifting of “measures” imposed on Zimbabwe.
“While being mindful of the impact of these restrictive measures, the Special Rapporteur
believes that, irrespective of such measures, the government has a duty to fulfill its human
rights obligations,” reads the report.
He also urges the government to implement recommendations of the commission of enquiry
chaired by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe into the August 2018 killings
of six civilians by soldiers in Harare.
In addition, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the government should refrain from
introducing restrictions on access to and use of the Internet, including shutdowns.
Voule recommended that Zimbabwe should ensure that Section 210 of the Constitution is
operationalised through a consultative process to ensure accountability of law enforcement
officials who violate the right to freedom of assembly and of association through an
independent oversight body.
His recommendations in that regard are poignant given that the number of cases involving the
assault of journalists conducting their lawful professional duties in terms of their right to
media freedom, continue with impunity without the culprits being brought to account.
media environment
The media operating environment during the period under review is contextualised against
developments on the media law reform process, in terms of progress or lack thereof, as well as
the enjoyment of the right to media freedom, freedom of expression, and ultimately citizens’
right to access to information.
Regrettably the situation is still far from the ideal in terms of respect for media freedom which is
a critical component in fostering unhindered citizens’ participation in democratic process for
accountable and transparency governance.
According to the Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Day Index, Zimbabwe
is positioned at 126 out of 180 countries ranked globally. This ranking should be a sobering and
reflective moment for the Zimbabwe government considering that other Southern Africa
Development Community countries such as Namibia, South Africa and Botswana are ranked at
23, 31 and 39, respectively.
Between March and June 2020 following the COVID-19 national regulations, a total of 25
journalists (of which three cases were not recorded), and media workers (newspaper vendors),


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