South Africa has risen eleven places in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, which has lauded President Jacob Zuma.
The country is now placed at number 42 (previously 52) on the annual Reporters Without Borders list, above the United States (46), Japan (59) and Zimbabwe (135) but below Namibia (22), Ghana (27) and the United Kingdom (33).
The top spot was taken by Finland, followed by the Netherlands and Norway in second and third place.
The index, which covers 180 countries, noted major declines in media freedom in countries such as the United States, Central African Republic and Guatemala and, on the other hand, marked improvements in Ecuador, Bolivia and South Africa.
The hunt for leaks and whistleblowers saw declines in the United States by 13 places and the United Kingdom by three places.
Reporters Without Borders applauded President Zuma for refusing to sign the Protection of State Information Bill and sending it back to Parliament in September last year.
“Jacob Zuma’s veto is a major victory for freedom of information in South Africa,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope the country’s parliamentarians will follow the lead set by their President and abandon the law.”
Their congratulations may be premature, however. The bill has been amended and again approved by Parliament. While it’s an improved version, critics insist that it will still limit press freedom in reporting on the state. Zuma has yet to sign the amended bill into law.