In his inauguration speech on 24 November 2017 following the ouster of former
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he would ensure
the pillars of democracy are strengthened and respected in Zimbabwe.
At face value, these remarks can be interpreted as realisation that during his 37-year hold
on power, former president, Mugabe, failed to strengthen the pillars of democracy despite
the coming into existence of the much acclaimed 2013 Constitution which was expected to
open a new democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe.
In saying that, President Mnangagwa was not off mark. As the year came to a close in 2017,
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.


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