So this is Democracy? State of media freedom in Southern Africa 2006

Date: January 1, 1970
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At the end of 2006 the Southern African media emerged battered and bruised from a year marked by outright hostility. Throughout the year the media and Courts were at loggerheads over their respective obligations, with both contending that what they were doing was for the public good.

This 13th edition of So This Is Democracy? Documents media freedom and freedom of expression violations recorded by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) 2006. During that year 144 such violations were recorded against the region’s journalists and institutions. This is a decrease of 7.6 percent on the 155 alerts of 2005.

The murders of Angolan journalists, Augusto Sebastiano Domingos Pedro and Benicio Wedeinge, remain unsolved. Official investigations are slow and, while authorities are convinced that these are random incidents, unrelated to the work of the journalists, the murders have left an indelible mark on the psyche of the country’s journalists.

All countries in Southern Africa are at some stage of the media law reform. Such developments are painfully slow and have not always yielded the envisaged results. In view of this, journalists and media freedom activists are compelled to be even more vigilant in promoting and protecting media freedom and freedom of expression rights.

The year 2006 also marked the completion of the first cycle of the African Media Barometer (AMB), an assessment tool for national media environments. Not surprisingly, the Zimbabwe panelists reported on the ‘fear factor’, which discourages reporting that is critical of the state. The South African AMB report contained the eye-opening revelation that there are powerful pockets of fear in the country regarding freedom of expression, resulting in self-censorship.

In all, this publication remains an important historical document detailing events affecting media workers in most of the southern African region in 2006. It should prove valuable, not only to media activists, but also to scholars and others interested in issues of media freedom and the free flow of information.

ISBN: 99916-62-14-6
Publisher: MISA
Year of Publication: 2006

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