According to the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report, sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the worst regions for press freedom: 22 out of 28 countries were classified as having "bad mass media environment" and "very bad mass media environment". Russia is holding an "honorable" 149th place in this ranking (in 2018 was 148th), right between Venezuela and Bangladesh. Russia is behind the following African countries: Togo (76th place), Liberia (93rd place), Kenya (100th place), Uganda (125th place), Zimbabwe (127th place), South Sudan (incapacitated state led by a war criminal, 139th place) and many others.
Freedom of the press on the African continent is experiencing serious problems: authorities of many countries don’t accept independent opinion, economic and judicial prosecution of journalists is becoming a state policy, moreover, reporters investigating crimes of criminal regimes face attacks and threats from government entities.
“Reporters Without Borders” note, that Somalia is the most dangerous country for mass media. At the same time Tanzania, the Central African Republic, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe recorded a significant deterioration in freedom of expression.
In 2018, three journalists were killed in Somalia. Two Harakat al-Shabab militants and one police officer were involved in the incident.
The same number of deaths was registered in the CAR, which after the murder of three Russian journalists fell in the ranking by 33 positions. The “Dossier” Project investigation showed, that the murder of Russian journalists involved Putin's henchman Eugene Prigogine and the group “PMC Wagner” This, so to speak, is Putin's Russia's contribution to freedom of speech in Africa.
The freedom of speech situation in Tanzania has also plummeted: as a result, the country fell in the ranking by 25 positions and now occupies 118th place. The presidential election in 2015 was accompanied by unprecedented attacks on mass media, and in 2018 the country continued its alarming decline. Tanzanian President John “Bulldozer” Magufuli is a member of the club of freedom of speech killers: journalists in his country face attacks that go unpunished and are not investigated by the authorities. The criminal regime never made a serious attempt to investigate Azori Gwanda’s disappearance case – the journalist went missing in November 2017. Moreover, two journalists who investigated the disappearance of Azori were arrested by the authorities in November 2018. As a result, journalists left the country after facing pressure from the Tanzanian authorities.
2018 was the worst year for press freedom in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The creators of the documentary film about the eviction of villagers from the land claimed by former President Joseph Kabila, were attacked by unknown persons.
In Mauritania blogger Mohamed Mcateer still remains detained - he wrote an article condemning a religion that justifies slavery. Slavery is forbidden in the country, but people there still face this medieval phenomenon. In March 2018, a foreign journalist was deported from Mauritania for covering the illegality of the blogger's arrest.
In Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa, known by the nickname of “the Crocodile”, seized power in the country, which itself already says a lot about freedom of speech situation in this African country.
“Ghana, Africa's best country in 2018, lost that status for failing to protect a group of investigative journalists who were threatened, especially by deputies from the ruling party, after they made a documentary about corruption in Ghanaian football. One of the journalists was shot on street in Accra in January 2019,” – the RSF report said.
On the other hand, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Zambia and Angola have registered significant improvements in freedom of speech situation.
Namibia received the highest rating in Africa (23rd place in the world), Burkina Faso rose to 36th place, Senegal — to 49th. Media pluralism in these countries is quite developed and they have little in common with countries where freedom of speech is being consistently destroyed by the state, such as, for example, Eritrea with its 178th position or Djibouti (173rd position). Freedom of speech in Namibia is in a better position than in Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Ethiopia, which had undergone a change of government, has greatly improved its situation. In The Gambia there has also been a significant improvement in press freedom since the end of authority of dictator Jaya Jamme: new independent media have been created, journalists have returned from exile and the criminalization of “slander of power” has been declared unconstitutional.
It is pleasing to know that Africa is moving along the way of democratization and creation of institutions of freedom of speech, while Russia is sinking to the bottom of tyranny, lies and propaganda. It becomes indecent to compare Russia with Africa: many African countries demonstrate development, the situation with freedom of speech is improving, they exercise democratic change of power and development of civil society in general is far superior to that of Putin's Russia. Putin planned to catch up with Portugal, but Russia has lagged behind Zimbabwe.