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Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 (formerly known as Rhodesia before 1980), is an African state which mainly practices Christianity. Censorship was pervasive during Ian Smith's government (as Rhodesia) and Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF rule (1987-2017). ZANU-PF remains the dominant party in Parliament, and it is also the party of the incumbent president Emerson Mnangagwa.

General censorship[]

  • The Censorship and Entertainments Control Act 1967 is an Act of Parliament in Zimbabwe. It was passed by the Parliament of Rhodesia in 1967 to target obscenity and blasphemy in literature and film. The act was most frequently evoked by the Rhodesian government to censor sexual content in literary works or communist literature. Rhodesian era bans on literature for politically subversive content were reversed in 1980 after the country achieved internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe. However, the new Zimbabwean government continued to evoke the act to ban literature and films for obscenity, a broad label which it has extended to include explicit sexual content and positive portrayals of homosexuality.

The Act repealed elements of the Entertainments Control and Censorship Act, 1932, the Subversive Activities Act, 1950, and the Emergency Powers (Control of Publications) Act, 1965.

In its 2006 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House finds that Zimbabwe's already very poor freedom of expression and freedom of the press has deteriorated still further. The 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) requires journalists and media companies to register with the government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) and gives the government powers to deny people to work as journalists. An amendment enacted in 2005 introduced prison sentences of up to two years for journalists working without accreditation. Oppositional and independent newspapers have been ordered to close by the authorities, and journalists are intimidated, arrested, and prosecuted, with the support of laws criminalising the publication of "inaccurate" information. Foreign journalists are regularly denied visas, and local correspondents for foreign publications have been refused accreditation and threatened with deportation. The state controls all broadcast media as well as major dailies such as The Chronicle and The Herald. The coverage is dominated by favourable portrayals of Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party and attacks on government critics. According to Freedom House, the government also monitors e-mail content.

According to the US State Department, a local NGO has quoted State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa as stating the authorities would "not relent in their determination to hound into extinction the country's few remaining alternative sources of information."

Film censorship[]

  • Jock of the Bushveld - this adventure film was banned in Zimbabwe because of its South African origins. At the time Zimbabwe boycotted South African products because of its apartheid regime
  • Flame (1996) - this war film set in the Rhodesian Bush War about the female guerrillas of Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army The film was confiscated by police for being "subversive and pornographic", but was returned to the producers after a worldwide campaign badmouthed after being shown to the Veterans Association of Zimbabwe, after the veterans claimed it was "full of lies" and were angered by the rape scene. Ultimately, it passed Zimbabwean censors and became a box office success and the number one film of the year in Zimbabwe.
  • The Interpreter - this political thriller film was banned in Zimbabwe due to the The fictional African state featured, Matobo shares its name with the Matobo National Park in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Parallels have been drawn between the movie and the real country of Zimbabwe (which is itself mentioned in the film as an existing country), and between the character of Zuwanie and former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
  • Both Mugabe and Zuwanie were once respected freedom-fighters who later became synonymous with corruption and violence.
  • In real life, Robert Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe for 25 years when the movie was released. The movie's Zuwanie had been in power for 23 years.
  • At the time of the film's release, Australia and New Zealand were pushing for Mugabe to be indicted by the UN Security Council for trial before the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity; Zuwanie is indicted by the UN Security Council for trial before the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.
  • Both Mugabe and Zuwanie were teachers before being involved with politics.
  • Mugabe tended to wave his fist; Zuwanie his gun.
  • Mugabe's government hired Ari Ben-Menashe, a security consultant and lawyer who claimed to be an ex-Israeli secret service agent, as an advisor and used him to allegedly help frame opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for treason and for plotting an assassination against Mugabe. Zuwanie is portrayed as arranging for a former Dutch mercenary to arrange an assassination attempt on him to justify using violence against opposition groups.
  • Mugabe had a preoccupation with the British and accuses Tony Blair of trying to unseat him. Zuwanie thinks the French are doing the same.
  • After coming to power, Mugabe was known to have carried out the Gukurahundi, a series of massacres and pogroms against political rivals and civilians from other tribes. Zuwanie also uses his security forces to ethnically cleanse civilians and murder political opponents prompting the UN to investigate his government.
  • Both Matobo and Zimbabwe have a significant white African community of British and European ancestry who once made up the ruling political class of both countries.
  • The flag of Matobo bears a strong resemblance to the flag of Zimbabwe.
  • The film has a scene where there is a demonstration against Zuwanie at the UN; one of the anti-Zuwanie demonstrators is a holding a poster with the open-handed symbol which resembles the logo of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe: the Movement for Democratic Change.
  • Lobola - this film, which deals with the custom of lobola (property in livestock or kind, which a prospective husband or head of his family undertakes to give to the head of a prospective wife’s family in gratitude of letting the husband marry their daughter), was banned because it "doesn't really portray African custom when it comes to marriage, since one does not get married while drunk." Another objection is a scene where a young couple kisses in front of their parents, as well as the "abrupt ending".
  • Kumasowe - This film was banned because it depicts violent clashes between members of an apostolic sect in the country and Zimbabwe Republic police officers.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey was banned because of the explicit erotic scenes. In some theaters an edited version was allowed.

Internet censorship[]

Television censorship[]

  • Mugabe's administration was also infamously known for Operation Dzikisai Madhishi (Pull down your satellite dish in Shona), which was conducted by the Military of Zimbabwe to remove private homes' satellite dishes. These dishes are often used to view e.tv, SABC, Botswana Television, DSTV and other alternatives to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. It began in Matabeleland South in June 2008 and spread soon after to other provinces, carried out by attaches of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe National Army and youth militia.

Video game censorship[]

External links[]

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