The gazetting of the PVO Amendment Bill also came on the backdrop of Zimbabwe’s slippage in
the Reporters Without Borders’ 2021 media freedom rankings.
Zimbabwe slid in the rankings, falling from 126 to 130.
The downside of these developments should, however, be viewed on the progress made on the
access to information front following the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act as well as
the marked reduction in the number of media freedom violations in 2021 compared to 2020.
Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution explicitly provides for the right to access to information, freedom
of expression and of the media, among other progressive provisions under its Bill of Rights.
In that regard, commendable steps were taken to give effect to the enjoyment of the right to
freedom of information through the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 2020 in place
of the widely discredited Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The new information law is a progressive step towards fostering citizens’ right to access to
information. Other commendable developments include the licensing of the country’s first-ever
community radio stations and ‘private’ commercial television stations.
However, these progressive steps risk being marred by some claw-back provisions in some of the
laws such as the Data Protection Act (despite some of its progressive provisions) and the gazetted
PVO Amendment Bill.
Further, the Government of Zimbabwe is drafting amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reforms) Act aimed at criminalising engagements between citizens of Zimbabwe and foreign
embassies without government approval.
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the 16th of November 2021, made
submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
on the status of the principles of the proposals to regulate Zimbabwean citizens’ engagement with
foreign governments.
In a virtual presentation to the Committee, the Ministry’s Law Officer – Policy and Legal Research
Department, Ms P. Dhokwani, noted that the principles which are set to amend the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act were approved by Cabinet and were now with the drafters. These


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