Zimbabwe’s media environment improved under President Mnangagwa’s administration with previously high profile journalists, banned or exiled, finding their way back to practice their craft here.
In the old dispensation, journalists were constantly harassed and arrested while foreign correspondents and services were barred from covering the country.
However, the opening up of the media space has seen journalists free to practice, amid media reforms that are meant to repeal repressive laws and allowing media freedom.
The return of Andrew Meldrum, a former correspondent of The Guardian UK, to cover the funeral service of former President Robert Mugabe last week, was a major indication that times are changing in the country.
Meldrum was deported from Zimbabwe on May 16, 2003 after being declared a “prohibited immigrant” and “an undesirable inhabitant” by the previous administration.
By the time of his deportation, Meldrum was a correspondent for a British newspaper, The Guardian. He had worked in Zimbabwe as a journalist from 1980 to 2003.
Meldrum said when he arrived in the country, he told an immigration officer that he wanted to cover the funeral of Cde Mugabe.
“It’s an historic event. (Cde) Robert Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years and had a huge influence on Zimbabwe and across Africa. I want to chronicle this final chapter of his life,” he said.
After a few more questions, Meldrum said he was told; “Welcome back to Zimbabwe!”