Zimbabwe Country Profile

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About Zimbabwe.

Media Info

All broadcasters transmitting from Zimbabwean soil, and many of the main newspapers, toe the government line.

The main pro-government dailies, the Harare-based Herald and the Bulawayo-based Chronicle, are tightly controlled by the Information Ministry. The private press, which is relatively vigorous in its criticism of the government, has come under severe pressure.

Newspaper cover prices are beyond the reach of many readers and publishers have been hit by escalating costs.

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.

Radio is the main source of information. Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) operates TV and radio stations under the umbrella of state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH).

Two national private FM radio stations are licensed – one to a company owned by a supporter of Mr Mugabe, the other to a majority state-owned publisher.

Overseas-based radios transmit into Zimbabwe: Voice of the People, set up by former ZBC staff with funding from the Soros Foundation and a Dutch organisation, leases a shortwave transmitter in Madagascar.

From the US, government-funded Voice of America (VOA) operates Studio 7, which aims to be a source of “objective and balanced news”.

Radio broadcasts by foreign stations deemed hostile to the government have been subject to deliberate interference.

General Info

The struggle for independence, land and power runs throughout Zimbabwe’s history. Veteran President Robert Mugabe has dominated the country’s political scene since independence from Britain in 1980.

Landlocked, the southern African country is bordered by Zambia in the north, Mozambique in the east, Botswana in the west and South Africa in the south.

Once the bread basket of the region, since 2000 Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its own people due to severe droughts and the effects of a land reform programme which saw the seizure of white-owned farms redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans which led to sharp falls in production.

Cash-strapped and impoverished, Zimbabwe’s economy faces severe challenges. Unemployment and poverty are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace. Many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa.

The Republic of Zimbabwe

Capital: Harare

Population: 13 million

Major Languages: English (official), Shona, Sindebele

Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 53 years (women)

Currency: Multi-currency system, US dollar & South African Rand predominant Pula (1 ZAR = 0.07 USD)

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