Zimbabwe/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

Media in Zimbabwe has been constrained by the unfavourable operating environment. In 2002 the government enacted the notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) Act and Public Order and Security Act (POSA). AIPPA prohibits any individual who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Zimbabwe, or any company in which one or more Zimbabwean citizens hold – directly or indirectly - a controlling interest, to hold or acquire shares in a mass media service. Article 65 (1) (a) of AIPPA makes it clear that, ‘any individual who is not a citizen of Zimbabwe or any body corporate in which a controlling interest is not held, directly or indirectly, whether through any individual, company or association or otherwise, by one or more individuals who are citizens of Zimbabwe.’ 

The Act also requires that all media houses be registered with the Media and Information Commission (MIC), which issues media houses with two-year renewable registration licenses. 

Newspaper reporting is affected by the political situation in Zimbabwe, where both private and state-owned publications have to adopt certain positions on almost every issue, including sport. The table below shows newspapers currently available in Zimbabwe. 

Zimbabwe witnessed a gradual growth in privately owned print media during the 1990s. However, the enactment in 2002 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which introduced a stringent licensing regime for media houses, coupled with the country’s economic meltdown, has stifled investment in the sector (Guthrie Munyuki, 2003). One of the companies that run a news agency and provincial newspapers, New Ziana is wholly owned by the government. 

The Broadcasting Services Act of 2001 regulates broadcasting in the country. Article 8 (1) provides that, ‘Subject to subsection (3), a broadcasting licence shall be issued only to individuals who are citizens of Zimbabwe and ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe or to a body corporate in which a controlling interest is held, whether through any individual, company or association or otherwise, by one or more individuals who are citizens of Zimbabwe and ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe.’ Currently there is a US$7,500 license application fee levied on would-be commercial broadcasters.[1]

The state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is the only holder of four commercial radio and two television licenses. Although one of the requirements for having those licences is to pay a range of fees this company is not paying any regulatory fees. 

Generally in the broadcasting sector 75% of broadcast material should be local content to give more visibility to local artists. 

The media environment is slowly improving in Zimbabwe. In July 2009 Zimbabwean journalists set up a rights body, the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights to defend media freedom in the country and the establishment of a new government body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission to replace the Media and Information Commission. Three papers – the previously banned Daily News, Financial Gazette and NewsDay were to relaunch. A license was issued to the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) that publishes Daily News which the government previously banned, was now free to operate.  The Daily News newspaper re-appeared again on March 18, 2011. 

However there are huge gaps in the newspaper market - notably the lack of independent Ndebele and Shona language newspapers, and the absence of affordable A4 or even A5 sized newspapers for low-income earners in the townships and rural centers.



[1] http://www.voanews.com/zimbabwe/news/Zimbabwean-Broadcasting-Authority-Raises-Issue-of-Monitoring-New-Radios-125171114.html

Chapter published: 28-09-2011


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