This is so despite initial optimism that there would be significant improvement from the conditions in which the media operated in under ousted former president Mugabe’s regime.
Mugabe’s contempt of the media during his time in office was almost undeniable. Several cases of journalist assaults and arrests were reported during his 37 year reign, while many global, particularly western, news outlets like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) were banned from the country.
At party rallies, he often described private newspapers as “rubbish papers” while accusing them of being too fixated with reporting on issues relating to his private family life.
Mugabe’s government also enacted repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), under which private newspapers were also banned.
However, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s takeover as the country’s leader has offered little respite on issues surrounding Zimbabwe’s media environment, as asserted by Moyo.“In our (MISA) monitoring nothing has changed in terms of the media except that there are statements which point to change yet in practice there is no change”, said Moyo speaking to NewZimbabwe.com.
“Laws which were in place all along such as the Access to Information Privacy and Protection Act (AIPPA), Broadcasting Service Act (BSA) are still intact. Journalists are still being assaulted and arrested”, he added.
Mugabe’s dramatic “forced” resignation in November last year came with a military warning for journalists to report “responsibly”.
Since then, there have been reported arrests and beatings on journalists who have been targeted for taking images of police raids on vendors and touts.
In September, freelance journalist Conrad Gweru was attacked, arrested and is currently being tried for “disorderly conduct in a public place” after he was caught filming violent exchange between the police and taxi drivers in central Harare.
Similarly, freelance journalist Nyasha Mukapiko was assaulted by police late in November while covering tumultuous scenes that preceded the national budget presentation by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in parliament.
President Mnangagwa has, however, made initial plans to amend the repressive AIPPA and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).