All broadcasters transmitting from Zimbabwean soil, as well as the main newspapers, are state-run and toe the government line.
Newspapers operate under restrictive media laws
The press is dominated by two pro-government dailies, the Harare-based Herald and the Bulawayo-based Chronicle, both tightly controlled by the Information Ministry.
Private publications, which are relatively vigorous in their criticism of the government, have come under severe pressure. A leading private daily, the Daily News, was banned after a legal battle.
The remaining independent press is largely confined to two weeklies, the Standard and the Zimbabwe Independent. Another weekly, The Zimbabwean, is produced in London and distributed in Zimbabwe as an international publication.
Because of rampant inflation, cover prices have spiralled and are beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans. Publishers have been hit by escalating printing and newsprint costs.
A range of draconian laws and institutions, along with prison sentences for “publishing false news”, are used to clamp down on critical comment. Journalists who fail to register with a government body risk imprisonment.
State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) operates the country’s only TV and radio stations. ZBC formerly had two TV channels; its second network was leased to private station Joy TV which closed in 2002. Some of its programmes were said to have ruffled government feathers.
Surveillance, threats, imprisonment, censorship, blackmail, abuse of power and denial of justice are all brought to bear to keep firm control over the news
Reporters Without Borders, 2007
Radio is the main source of information for many Zimbabweans. Although there are no private stations, the country is targeted by overseas-based operations.
The Voice of the People, set up by former ZBC staff with funding from the Soros Foundation and a Dutch organisation, operates using a leased shortwave transmitter in Madagascar.
Another station, the UK-based SW Radio Africa, aims to give listeners in Zimbabwe “unbiased information”.
From the US, the government-funded Voice of America (VOA) operates Studio 7, a twice-daily service for listeners in Zimbabwe which aims to be a source of “objective and balanced news”.
Radio broadcasts by foreign stations deemed hostile to the government have been jammed.
- The Herald – government-owned daily
- The Chronicle – Bulawayo-based, government-owned daily
- The Financial Gazette – private, business weekly
- The Standard – private, weekly
- Zimbabwe Independent – private weekly
- Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) – state-run, operates ZTV1
- Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) – state-run, operates National FM, Power FM, Radio Zimbabwe and S-FM
- SW Radio Africa – studio in London, broadcasts via mediumwave (AM) transmitter based outside Zimbabwe
- Voice of the People – broadcasts to Zimbabwe from hired shortwave transmitter on Madagascar
- Studio 7 – based in Washington DC, operated by VOA
- New Ziana – state-run
- ZimOnline – private, South Africa-based
- Zimdaily.com – private, UK-based
- The Zimbabwe Times – private, US-based
Zimbabwe (pronounced /zɪmˈbɑːbweɪ/), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, and formerly Southern Rhodesia, the Republic of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Rhodesia, is a landlocked country in the southern part of the continent of Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east. The official language of Zimbabwe is English. However, the majority of the population speaks Shona, which is the native language of the Shona people; the other native language of Zimbabwe being Sindebele, which is spoken by the Matabele people.
From circa 1250–1629, the area that is known as Zimbabwe today was ruled under the Mutapa Empire, also known as Mwene Mutapa, Monomotapa or the Empire of Great Zimbabwe, which was renowned for its gold trade routes with Arabs. However, Portuguese settlers destroyed the trade and began a series of wars which left the empire near collapse in the early 17th century. In 1834, the Ndebele people people arrived while fleeing from the Zulu leader Shaka, making the area their new empire, Matabeleland. In the 1880s, the British arrived with Cecil Rhodes‘ British South Africa Company. In 1898, the name Southern Rhodesia was adopted.
As colonial rule was ending throughout the continent, and as African-majority governments assumed control in neighbouring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority Rhodesia government led by Ian Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. The United Kingdom deemed this an act of rebellion, but did not re-establish control by force. The white-minority regime declared itself a “republic” in 1970. It was not recognised by the UK or any other state, other than white minority-led South Africa.
On 18 April 1980, the country attained independence and along with it a new name, Zimbabwe, new flag, and government led by Robert Mugabe of ZANU. Canaan Banana served as the first president with Mugabe as Prime Minister. In 1987, the government amended the Constitution to provide for an Executive President and abolished the office of Prime Minister. The constitutional changes went into effect on 1 January 1988, establishing Robert Mugabe as President.
Under the leadership of Mugabe, land issues, which the liberation movement promised to solve, reemerged as the vital issue in the 1990s. Beginning in 2000, Mugabe began an effort to redistribute land from white holders (predominantly large farms) to 250,000 Africans.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a hard currency shortage, which has led to hyperinflation and chronic shortages in imported fuel and consumer goods. Mugabe’s critics blame his programme of land reform. However, Mugabe claims that massive financial isolation through American, British and EU legislation such as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery act of 2001 is the actual cause of hyperinflation. Under ZDERA, the IMF and other financial institutions are prohibited from extending loans, credit or cancelling debt to the government of Zimbabwe. As Zimbabwe needs to import all its energy, and oil is paid for in US dollars, this made the country vulnerable to financial sanctions like ZDERA.
Zimbabwe’s current economic and food crisis, described by some observers as the country’s worst humanitarian crisis since independence, has been attributed, in varying degrees, to a drought affecting the entire region, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the government’s price controls and land reforms.