Zimbabwe | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Under President Robert Mugabe, freedom of the press continues to be severely limited. A range of restrictive legislation--including the Official Secrets Act, the Public Order and Security Act, and criminal defamation laws--have been broadly interpreted by authorities in order to prosecute journalists. In addition, the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) gives the information minister sweeping powers to decide who can work as a journalist in Zimbabwe and requires all journalists to register with a government commission. It also criminalizes the publication of "inaccurate" information. By the end of the year, the act had been used to arrest at least a dozen journalists. However, its legality was challenged in court by a number of professional organizations. There are no privately owned broadcast media outlets, and just one independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, continues to operate. State-controlled radio, television, and newspapers are all seen as mouthpieces of the government and cover opposition activities only in a negative light. Independent media outlets and their staff are subjected to considerable verbal intimidation, physical attacks, arrest and detention, and financial pressure at the hands of the police, authorities, and supporters of the ruling party. Foreign correspondents based in the country, particularly those whose reporting portrayed the regime in an unfavorable light, were refused accreditation or threatened with lawsuits and deportation.