Laws such as the discredited Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), used to
license and regulate the media; the Official Secrets Act (OSA), to broadly embargo information held by
public bodies and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), to hinder free establishment of private radio
stations, remained entrenched in the country’s statutes.
Other restrictive laws include the Public Order and Security Act, Censorship and Entertainment
Controls Act (CECA), and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. This should also be viewed
against the government’s accelerated efforts to introduce the cybercrime laws, generally perceived as
intended to curb free speech online.
These laws essentially curtail citizens’ right to freedom of assembly and association, demonstrate and
petition, including the right to freedom of conscience, as provided for by Sections 58, 59 and 60 of the
Constitution as well as Sections 61 and 62 which protect the right to free expression, media freedom
and access to information.
Encouraging though is that President Mnangagwa in his State of the Nation Address to the 9 th
Parliament of Zimbabwe, singled out AIPPA and BSA as among the laws that will be tabled for
Similarly, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services led by Monica Mutsvangwa,
in November 2018 held consultative meetings with key media stakeholders to get input into the form
and shape the envisaged reforms should take.
That as it may be, the question being generally asked is whether the President will live up to his
promises and whip his ruling Zanu PF with its two-thirds parliamentary majority, to play ball and not
scupper the long overdue media laws and policy reforms.
❖ Political Context and Key Events
It is trite to note that the above-mentioned envisaged reforms have been outstanding since the
inception of the 2013 Constitution and should be viewed against the ecstatic jubilations that engulfed
the country following Mugabe’s ouster in November 2017.
Mugabe was largely accused of being the stumbling block to progressive reforms due to his obsessive
desire to cling to power by all means necessary without due regard and attention to the country’s
unresolved socio-economic and political ills.
His ouster thus raised hope that the post-2018 election period would open a new era for Zimbabwe.

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