Zimbabwe is currently undergoing a process of implementing its
newly-enacted 2013 Constitution. However, very little appears to
have been done to synchronise the new Constitution with laws
impacting access to information.
Government has drafted a Cyber Crimes Bill to purportedly curb
‘Cyber terrorism.’ However, the government has ostensibly been
responding to the recent spate of civil disobedience, which was
spearheaded by government-critical social movements such as
the #thisflag movement and the Tajamuka Campaign; both of
which were online campaigns relying on Facebook to convey
their message.
During 2017, the access to information and freedom of the media
situation in the country has generally remained rather gloom,
with at least 5 journalists having been caught up in violent
skirmishes with the police; with the most recent case involving
Newsday journalist Obey Manayiti and a fellow photo-journalist
who were assaulted by police while taking pictures in the central
business district.
This heavy-handed action against journalists is seemingly aimed
at blocking wayward police and enforcement practices from
entering into the public domain. This is not the only case of the
police’s use of unwarranted force against journalists. Similar
cases were reported in 2016.
These efforts have been subtle yet deliberate measures of
ensuring that the media remains contained, in flagrant violation
of Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution.
Under the Constitution the following rights are explicitly
61 Freedom of expression and freedom of the media
(1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression, which
(a) freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other
(b) freedom of artistic expression and scientific research and
creativity; and
(c) academic freedom.
(2) Every person is entitled to freedom of the media, which
freedom includes protection of the confidentiality of
journalists’ sources of information.
(3) Broadcasting and other electronic media of communication
have freedom of establishment, subject only to State licensing
procedures that—
(a) are necessary to regulate the airwaves and other forms of
signal distribution; and
(b) are independent of control by government or by political or
commercial interests.
(4) All State-owned media of communication must—
(a) be free to determine independently the editorial content of
their broadcasts or other communications;
(b) be impartial; and
(c) afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views



and dissenting opinions.
(5) Freedom of expression and freedom of the media do not
(a) incitement to violence;
(b) advocacy of hatred or hate speech;
(c) malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity; or
(d) malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy.
62 Access to information
(1) Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including
the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any
information held by the State or by any institution or agency
of government at every level, in so far as the information is
required in the interests of public accountability.
(2) Every person, including the Zimbabwean media, has the right
of access to any information held by any person, including the
State, in so far as the information is required for the exercise
or protection of a right.
(3) Every person has a right to the correction of information, or
the deletion of untrue, erroneous or misleading information,
which is held by the State or any institution or agency of the
government at any level, and which relates to that person.
(4) Legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, but
may restrict access to information in the interests of defence,
public security or professional confidentiality, to the extent
that the restriction is fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable
in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human
dignity, equality and freedom.
However, there still exists a plethora of subsidiary legislation
that is inconsistent with these constitutional provisions. Notable
among such laws is the Official Secrets Act 1970, which makes
it difficult for the public and media to access information held
by government and public institutions. Another constitutionally
inconsistent law is the Public Order and Security Act 2002
(POSA), which restricts freedom of association and freedom of
Furthermore, the preamble of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act 2002 (AIPPA) provides members of
the public with a right of access to records and information
held by public bodies. It further pledges to make public bodies
accountable by granting the public the right to request correction
of misrepresented personal information. The Preamble reads:
To provide members of the public with a right of access
to records and information held by public bodies; to make
public bodies accountable by giving the public a right to
request correction of misrepresented personal information;
to prevent the unauthorised collection, use or disclosure of
personal information by public bodies; to protect personal
privacy; to provide for the regulation of the mass media;
to establish a Media and Information Commission and to
provide for matters connected therewith or incidental to the
However, in effect the opposite is true, as the law takes away
more than it gives.

Select target paragraph3