Ask Takudzwa 32 – Freer Expression and the State in Zimbabwe

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand more. Here we talk about Article 61(4) of the Zimbabwean Constitution.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Article 61(4)(a) of the Zimbabwean Constitution (2013) states, “All State-owned media of communication must… be free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts or other communications…”

How does this influence some of the editorial decisions of the “content of their broadcasts or other communications”? In short, is there a boundary between finances provided by the State and the broadcasting content freedom of the producers of content?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: There is a fair degree of freedom of the press in Zimbabwe. State owned media does give a platform to diverse worldviews and it has never stood in the way of secularist opinions.

Jacobsen: Article 61(4)(b)-(c) states, “All State-owned media of communication must… be impartial… and c. afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.” Are there any other legal or infrastructural frameworks providing the stipulated impartiality and fair opportunity for Zimbabweans?

Let’s say an issue on secularism was being presented to the public, and then the religious leaders and spokespersons were provided the opportunity to come forward and present their case, would a divergent and dissenting view be permitted or sought, e.g., an atheist or a humanist group?

Mazwienduna: The government has actually encouraged secularists to speak out both on national radio and in newspapers. The only instance where freedom of the press is compromised is when it comes to criticism of the government itself. The ruling ZANU PF party has a totalitarian approach to governance such that they crush any opposition with every means possible.

Journalists who criticize the government might go missing or face arbitrary arrest without being given proper legal representation as the current case of Hopewell Chon’ono who is in jail for exposing the government’s corruption or cases like Jestina Mukoko and Patson Dzamara who were abducted and never found again back in the Mugabe days. Other than that, freedom of press is allowed as long as it does not compromise the ZANU PF establishment.

Jacobsen: How does this level of free expression compare to adjacent States: South Africa in the South, Botswana in the West and Southwest, Zambia to the North, and Mozambique to the Northeast and East?

Mazwienduna: Our Northern neighbor Zambia however is not as tolerating to secular views. They even have a ministry of religious affairs. The president of the Zambian Humanists Association Larry Mukwemba Tepa has talked about how Zambian government transitioned from a Humanist approach when Kenneth Kaunda the Civil Rights icon was president in the 1960s and 70s to the theocratic approach it takes today under Edgar Lungu.

The state of secularism in Zambia is at an all time low and it is the worst case scenario in the SADC region. South Africa and Botswana on the other hand are beacons of light upholding both secular and liberal approaches. They are successful democracies not only in the SADC region, but in Africa.

Mozambique on the other hand is an interesting case. The main religion in our Eastern neighbor; the Zimbabwean border town to which I’m native to and grew, is African Traditional Religion. Unlike the totalitarian nature of monotheistic religions like Christianity or Islam, animist traditional beliefs encourage more tolerance.

They have an understanding of how everyone has different beliefs and so embrace diversity. Secularism has never been a problem in Mozambique because of this lack of organized religion and so different views face no opposition in the papers.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican AtheistsAmerican Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

About Canadian Atheist

Canadian Atheist is an independent blog with multiple contributors providing articles of interest to Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists, and freethinkers.

Canadian Atheist is not an organization – there is no membership and nothing to join – and we offer no professional services or products. It is a privately-owned publishing platform shared with our contributors, with a focus on topics relevant to Canadian atheists.

Canadian Atheist is not affiliated with any other organization or group. While our contributors may be individually be members of other organizations or groups, and may even speak in an official capacity for them, CA itself is independent.

For more information about Canadian Atheist, or to contact us for any other reason, see our contact page.

About Canadian Atheist Contributors

Canadian Atheist contributors are volunteers who provide content for CA. They receive no payment for their contributions from CA, though they may be sponsored by other means.

Our contributors are people who have both a passion for issues of interest to Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists, and freethinkers, and a demonstrated ability to communicate content and ideas of interest on those topics to our readers. Some are members of Canadian secularist, humanist, atheist, or freethought organizations, either at the national, provincial, regional, or local level. They come from all walks of life, and offer a diversity of perspectives and presentation styles.

CA merely provides our contributors with a platform with almost complete editorial freedom. Their opinions are their own, expressed as they see fit; they do not speak for Canadian Atheist, and Canadian Atheist does not speak for them.

For more information about Canadian Atheist’s contribors, or to get in contact with any of them, or if you are interested in becoming a contributor, see our contact page.

Image Credit: Takudzwa Mazwienduna.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15