‘Zim among world’s 56 authoritarian States’

0
584
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on as he gives a media conference at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE has been adjudged as one of the 56 countries across the globe whose citizens are increasingly living under authoritarian leadership, the latest 2022 Freedom House report has revealed.

The report evaluated the state of freedom in 195 countries and 15 territories across the globe during the year 2021, considering factors such as political rights and civil liberties to determine whether a country or territory has an overall status of free, partly free or not free.

The 2022 report by Freedom House, a non-profit organisation that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, which is titled Freedom in the World shows that there are 83 countries classified as free, while 56 countries were classified as partly free.

Zimbabwe was classified as one of the 44% of the countries adjudged as not free, while 41% and 15% of the countries were categorised as partly free and free respectively.

Neighbouring South Africa was one of the three southern African countries classified as free.

The report also noted widespread coups as signifying that countries were increasingly disregarding international instruments against anti-democratic practices.

It further noted that African citizens were increasingly mobilising for change amid coups and crackdowns on dissent.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over power following a military coup that ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Coups also took place in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan, according to the report.

“Underscored is how dictators continue to extend their reach without much censure from governments that proclaim their support and respect for human rights, the increase in illiberal streaks within supposed democracies is also illuminated,” the report said.

“Political crises and power grabs further compromised the struggle for democratic progress in Africa. An attempted coup in Niger nearly sabotaged that country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power, which ultimately took place after the alleged perpetrators were arrested.  In a number of other countries, opposition figures faced increased obstacles as governments deployed a slew of new “antiterrorist” measures that effectively suppressed dissent”.

“In another sign that international deterrents against anti-democratic behaviour are losing force, coups were more common in 2021 than in any of the previous 10 years,” the report said.

“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of any democracy, and independent and transparent electoral processes are necessary to foster a competitive electoral environment and citizens’ trust in election integrity. It is essential that citizens be able to exercise their right to vote with relative ease. Special attention should be given to addressing discriminatory barriers to voting. In some countries members of certain racial or ethnic groups have difficulty obtaining the documentation they need to vote or face other undue obstacles to voting.”

Freedom House urged governments to improve laws that guard against corruption to guarantee absolute freedoms.

  • Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya