Index 2024
116/ 180
Score : 50.31
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
126/ 180
Score : 48.17
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

The media situation in Zimbabwe has improved slightly since the fall of former dictator Robert Mugabe in 2017. Access to information has increased and self-censorship has declined. However, the media have been subjected to more persecution since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reelection in 2023.  

Media landscape

The media landscape shows an encouraging increase in diversity, but it remains dominated by state-controlled media. The national companies, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers, are the largest media groups, with six radio stations, one TV channel and 10 newspapers, including The Herald, a daily. The privately owned Daily News and The Financial Gazette, a weekly, are also widely read. Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) publishes the daily NewsDay and the weekly The Independent, which are also very popular. There are four independent online news sites, including Zimlive and The Newshawks, and 14 community radio stations.

Political context

Even if the political climate has been more peaceful for Zimbabwean journalists since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as president, the authorities are still tempted to intervene in editorial decisions. In 2021, the head of Zimpapers asked editors to publicly support the ruling party ahead of the election. The media are usually subjected to many abuses in the run-up to elections. Local journalists were prevented from covering the election process in 2023, as were international journalists, who were denied accreditation. The authorities also influence the selection of members of the board of the media regulator, the Zimbabwe Media Commission. 

Legal framework

Extremely harsh laws are still in effect and, when new laws have been adopted, their provisions are just as draconian as those they replaced. The amended penal code and Official Secrets Act and the new Cyber Security and Data Protection Act continue to hamstring journalism. In theory, the confidentiality of sources is protected by law, but that hasn’t been the case in practice. A long-awaited law on freedom of information could see the light of day soon. In June 2023, the government adopted a dangerous “patriotic bill”, criminalising any “attack on sovereignty and national interest”, threatening the work of journalists.

Economic context

The economic situation in Zimbabwe is holding back development of the media. The cost of creating a new media outlet is prohibitive and discourages investors, while the annual licensing fees for a TV channel can reach tens of thousands of dollars. This situation allows the state to maintain its grip on the sector, with nearly 70% of print and broadcast media outlets under its control. Poorly paid journalists are exposed to the temptation of bribes, which weakens their independence.

Sociocultural context

Zimbabwe continues to be a conservative society that regards subjects related to religion and to the practice of certain religious groups as taboo, leading to self-censorship by the media.


Although levels of violence against journalists have decreased significantly under the Mnangagwa administration, they remain alarmingly high and self-censorship is routinely practiced to avoid reprisals. The police regularly use disproportionate force. Acts of intimidation, verbal attacks, threats (especially on social media) and the confiscation of equipment are all still common practices. Cases of journalists being imprisoned and prosecuted are rarer, with the notable exception of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who spent almost a month and a half in prison in 2020. Journalists’ phone communications are often subject to surveillance.