Media

During the colonial period, the print media was small and under South African or British ownership. Like most other institutions, the media catered primarily for the needs of the ruling white minority. Sometimes a newspaper or magazine was published specifically for the African readers, but these were liable to be banned if they were perceived to be "dangerous" to the white regimes' political dominance. In the period of 1960-1979, the press was subjected to undisguised repression. The African Daily News, Catholic Magazine "Moto", and "Zimbabwe Observer" were banned outright for supporting African Majority rule. Even the so called "white press" came under direct government censorship. The "Rhodesian Herald" dramatized its protest by printing the paper with blank spaces to show areas crossed out by the censor's red ink. Radio and television always remained under state monopoly, which was fully utilized in the political propaganda war against Africa freedom fighters, glorifying the bombing of refugee camps in Mozambique and Zambia. One of the most notorious radio programs at the time was "Padare".

The independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 brought with it a democratic constitution which guaranteed freedom of expression and of the press. Press censorship was no longer permissible and previously banned publications like "Moto" magazine were now available for the public to read. At independence, the new government immediately moved to eliminate foreign control of the print media by buying out the Argus Press interest in the Rhodesian Herald and the Bulawayo Chronicle, together with their weekend papers, the Sunday Mail and the Sunday News. This was made possible through a grant from the Nigerian government. Radio and television remained the control of a government parastatal, called Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) modelled on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Government's monopoly in the electronic media, which was created by the former government remained largely unchallenged, because the private sector did not consider the media a profitable field of investment. Government has enacted legislation under which private sector can operate radio and TV stations. In this regard "Joy TV" did operate a TV channel for a number of years, largely devoted to providing entertainment and documentaries. Government is looking at current legislation in order to find ways of bringing more local players into the sector.

Judging from what is published, Zimbabwe's newspapers rank amongst the most free in the whole world. The media in Zimbabwe rest on popular support, provided it can overcome problems, such as reliance on foreign capital, political partisanship and better trained journalists. The Zimbabwean media has a bright and secure future.

There are now a number of institutions in Zimbabwe offering diploma and degree courses in journalism. Zimbabwe also has the Union of Journalists (Zimbabwe Union of Journalists) looking after the interests of journalists in Zimbabwe.

© Embassy of Zimbabwe