As the world marks World Press Freedom Day, the Southern African Editor’s Forum (SAEF) has reported a mixed bag of media freedom within its chapters and southern Africa as a whole.
Although some countries show growth in certain areas, many are showing regression overall with South Africa, Malawi, Angola, Lesotho all dropping on the 2019 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
Angola had the biggest drop of 12 points from 109 to 121 followed by Lesotho dropping 10 points from 68 in 2018 to 78 in 2019 and then Zambia from 113 in 2018 to 119 in 2019. All the other countries that dropped points dropped less than five points in their individual ratings.
A glimmer of hope is Namibia, who has regained her position of the number one country with the freest media in Africa. Namibia moved three places from 26 in 2018 to 23 in 2019 in the latest rankings to reclaim her position from Ghana.
With Namibia at number one in Africa, this means that no African country is in the top 20 at the moment on the RSF World Press freedom rankings, indicating that more needs to be done with regards to media freedom in Africa as a whole.
Botswana shows a significant change with the new government as they have also gone up 4 points from 48 in 2018 to 44 in 2019 in the latest rankings.
Eswatini which has one of the worst rankings globally being currently ranked at 147 has shown an upward spiral, moving five places from 152 in 2018 to 147 in 2019 in the latest rankings. This shows that there are some improvements within the Kingdom of Eswatini, though slow it surely signifies growth in a country where there is high intimidation of journalists.
Though Zimbabwe remains lowly ranked the country has moved one place up from 127 in 2018 to 126 in 2019 but more can be done especially after the promise of change by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, after taking over from his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
Angola is still ranked low globally but there seems to be some good indication of things getting better with journalists now being able to pose questions directly to their president for the first time in 40 years, SAEF believes that President João Lourenço has the power to improve media freedom within his country.
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