South Africa & Zimbabwe: Silencing Critical Voices



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Information Society Project, Yale Law School


University of Cape Town

In general, the situation in both South Africa and Zimbabwe is very different from the ‘Arab Spring’ model, where mass uprisings used social media as advocacy and organizing tools followed by states switching off the internet or blocking access to it via mobile phones, as discussed in the chapter by Nagla Rizk. It is also quite different from the situation in China, were the target is public use of online media. In South Africa and Zimbabwe there are more incident-based instances of censorship, which pertain to specific media reports or information published online and to individual voices on social media platforms. Both countries have constitutional protection of freedom of expression, including press freedom. However, they both have legislation which has been used to secure the censorship of critical voices. It is not possible in a chapter of this length and type to engage in full-scale analysis of all relevant legislation. Therefore, the chapter only provides a snapshot of some of the relevant legislation. It aims to provide examples of the different types of censorship that have occurred in both countries in the last two years.