Fewer than half of Zimbabweans consider their news media free, Afrobarometer surveys show

A majority of Zimbabweans want a free news media, but fewer than half think that’s what they have, an analysis of Afrobarometer survey data shows.

In nationally representative surveys completed in 2017 and 2018, only four in 10 Zimbabwean citizens see their news media as “completely free” or “partly free with minor problems.” . In contrast, a majority of citizens believe that the media should have the right to publish any views or ideas without government control.

When it comes to private communications, more than three-fourths of Zimbabweans say the government should not have the right to monitor what is said.

Concerns regarding the country’s media freedom were thrown into high relief following the assault and detention of at least three journalists by army officers in the aftermath of last year’s general election and the shutdown of the Internet and social media during protests against fuel-price hikes in January. Activists have highlighted a need to change restrictive laws in order to secure media freedom in Zimbabwe.