The South Africa region includes the nations of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
South Africa is the region’s economic powerhouse, and while press freedoms there are comparatively healthy, they have come under increasing pressure. The government has stated a policy of buying advertising from media outlets that supply favorable coverage, thereby discouraging dissent. Assaults against journalists climbed in 2011, with members of the youth wing of the African National Congress apparently responsible for many.
In Zimbabwe, domestic independent news sources remain few following years of suppression. Although pressure has eased since a crackdown surrounding the 2008 elections, journalists continue to operate under tight regulations.
Malawi experienced a surge of anti-press violence in 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, mostly surrounding summer protests against rising fuel costs and economic problems. President Bingu wa Mutharika enacted a measure to allow publications “not in the public interest” to be banned, but it was not immediately used.
Zambia earned protests from the Overseas Press Club and others in 2009 when a journalist was prosecuted for sending government officials photos of a woman giving birth in the street, thereby calling attention to a lack of available health care. The government called the photos obscene. Prosecution was also initiated against journalists who subsequently criticized the government’s case. The journalist, Chansa Kabwela, was eventually acquitted.
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