Describe the main features of the measure/initiative:
In Zimbabwe, artistic freedom is protected as a human right under Section 61 of the national Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression through; (a) the freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information, and; (b) the freedom of artistic expression and scientific research and creativity. Further, there are a number of international law instruments ratified by Zimbabwe which recognise this duty but the main conventions are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). The government of Zimbabwe is currently implementing a legislative reform programme aimed at aligning legislation with the national constitution. Although progress has been slow under this programme, Freemuse and Nhimbe Trusthave identified this process as an opportunity to engage government and make recommendations on artistic freedom legislative issues that require prioritisation through amendments to the laws. The joint intervention by Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust introduces a concept of leverage rights to artistic freedom, to the constitutional alignment process. By manner of example and for illustrative purposes, these rights include but are not limited to freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Their protection and promotion, individually and collectively, lead to the realisation and enjoyment of artistic freedom. Notably, this intervention by Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust is aimed at ensuring that Zimbabwe addresses artistic freedom policy gaps, within the framework of the 2005 Convention, which have been identified by UNESCO, CSOs and other actors. Developed in 2020, the Policy Paper on ‘Leverage Rights for Artistic Freedom in Zimbabwe’ i. explains the meaning and scope of artistic freedom in the context of the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe. ii. applies the concept of leverage rights to identify and analyse fundamental rights in the Bill of Rights which are critical to the enjoyment of artistic freedom in Zimbabwe. iii. identifies and summarizes primary legislation which Freemuse and Nhimbe Trust must track and target, for advocacy and campaign, during the legislative realignment process. iv. provides an “Artistic Freedom Leverage Rights Bill Tracker” which is a table reflecting the status in the legislative realignment process, of the relevant laws which affect artistic freedom. The paper is intended at informing operational action that will be implemented to a) promote civic education amongst artists and cultural professionals in Zimbabwe. b) shape Nhimbe Trust and Freemuse’s campaign and advocacy position on issues which concern artistic freedom in Zimbabwe. c) provide civic education so that artists and cultural professionals are more effectively positioned to raise relevant artistic freedom issues as recommendations to Parliament. Within the scope of this policy oriented measure, there has been the identification of the need to not only promote awareness on what artistic freedom is, what it entails and how it constitutionally is protected, but further inquire into specific policy and administrative measures that have a bearing on the exercise and realisation of artistic freedom in Zimbabwe. This inquiry seeks to: ● Map how the legislative and administrative framework on censorship, freedom of assembly, immigration/citizenship and copyrights affect artistic freedom; ● Ascertain whether existing policy and administrative frameworks conform to international and domestic constitutional standards designed to protect freedom of expression; ● Identify recommendations that can be made to the relevant regulatory authorities on the strengthening or amendment of policy and administrative frameworks to ensure that they protect and promote artistic freedom; ● Formulate advocacy initiatives that can be undertaken to facilitate and promote the adoption of recommendations.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the measure/initiative?:
The policy paper has identified the following priority areas: 1. Scope of limitations to freedom of expression: In the absence of prescriptions that define ‘prohibited forms of expressions,’ specifically in defining the scope of what counts as incitement of violence, advocating hatred or hate speech and invasion of privacy, legislation becomes susceptible to arbitrary application. 2. Procedures of enforcing freedom of expression: In the spirit of promoting and protecting artistic freedom, legislation should prescribe procedures to the handling of complaints of violations and the nature of measures which can be taken, specifically by the Media Commission, as redress in the event of violations. 3. Procedures relating to the issuance of broadcasting licences: Freedom of expression is often muzzled by way of arbitrarily denying broadcasting licenses. In instances where the government has monopoly over the issuance of broadcasting rights, the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act may arbitrarily be instrumentalized to prohibit the dissemination of certain artwork which is considered offensive. 4. Procedural issues relating to mobility and the organisation of public gatherings: Freedom of movement, assembly and association is key to the realisation of artistic freedom. Policy provisions accompanying this legislation, therefore ought to indicate, unequivocally, what procedures have to be followed for authorising public assembly to give full effect to constitutionally guaranteed rights. Concomitantly, legislation should articulate regulations and requirements which govern the issuance of visas. 5. Provisions guiding the classification of organisations as unlawful: Through legislative provisions, designated government authorities are empowered and mandated to declare organisations to be unlawful and such power is to be exercised in the interests of protecting national defence, public safety and public order.If the provisions contained in the law have vague provisions, post constitutional alignment, the legislation may be abused to prohibit legitimate organisations from operating. This has a direct bearing on the operations of artists and cultural workers who form private voluntary organisations. 6. Cultural rights promotion: This cluster of rights is a new phenomenon in the Zimbabwean constitutional framework, provided for under Section 63.Further legislative amendments or new laws must compel the government to undertake measures to promote the enjoyment of these rights. This can be achieved through amendments to already existing legislation, to cater for cultural rights broadly, or the creation of a Bill/Act that is specific to cultural rights. 7. Domestication of international instruments: Presently, Zimbabwe does not have a legislative framework that guides the domestication of international treaties/conventions. Policy advocacy must therefore ensure that the Bill to be enacted includes domestication timelines.