Zimbabwe drops 12 places on world Press freedom index
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According to the 2013 World Press Freedom Index report produced by Reporters Without Borders, Zimbabwe is among several other African countries whose ratings have reportedly taken a nosedive since last year due to political violence coupled with arbitrary arrests of journalists.
Other countries include South Sudan (124), Somalia (175), Djibouti (167), Ethiopia (137), Mali (65) and Burundi (132).
Part of the report reads: "The slow but sure progress that followed the formation of a national unity government in Zimbabwe in 2009 and the granting of publication licences to several independent newspapers appeared to have stalled. Violence and arrests of journalists still niggle and if elections go ahead as planned in 2013, the atmosphere for the media promises to be tense."
However, Misa-Zimbabwe Chapter senior programmes officer Nyasha Nyakunu yesterday dissociated his organisation from the report saying he was unsure how the survey was conducted. He admitted that the media's operating environment in the country was still not conducive.
"Unless the new constitution enacts a law that guarantees the protection of media houses, journalists and other media personnel the figures (violation reports) will still remain high," Nyakunu said.
According to the report, South Sudan, which was relatively high placed in 2011-2012 (124) fell 12 places after the murder of a columnist – the first killing of its kind in the new country – as news organisations and journalists awaited the approval of three new laws on the media.
In Somalia, 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or the direct targets of murder, making 2012 the deadliest year in the history of the country's media.
The report said the Horn of Africa State was the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists after Syria. In Eritrea (placed last in the index for the sixth successive year), at least 30 journalists were reportedly incarcerated.
Chad, which fell 18 places to 121, saw journalists harassed and roughed up, the publication of N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo newspaper temporarily halted and its publisher sentenced to a suspended prison term, and a highly repressive Bill kept under wraps.
East Africa was also cited as a region of censorship and crackdowns. President Omar al-Bashir's Sudan, where more newspapers were seized and the arrests of journalists continued last year, is stuck firmly in 170 place, in the bottom 10 of the index.
Mali that all long had been touted as the continent's star performer in democracy and Press freedom plunged in ratings due to the political events that overtook it during the year.
The media survey also described Gambia President Yahya Jammeh, King Mswati III (Swaziland), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbassogo (Equatorial Guinea), together with other heads of state such as Eriteria's Isaias Afewerki and Djibouti's Ismail Omar Guelleh as some of the continent's enemies of Press freedom.
Namibia (19), Cape Verde (25) and Ghana (30) maintained their record as the highest ranked African countries.
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