News / Africa

Zimbabwe Authorities Seize Radios, Mobile Receivers

FILE - Zimbabweans listen to a radio for an announcement of election results in Umguza, Apr. 1, 2008.
FILE - Zimbabweans listen to a radio for an announcement of election results in Umguza, Apr. 1, 2008.
Journalists and human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe said they are worried by authorities’ seizure of radios and mobile equipment that receive stations other than the state-controlled broadcaster. The development comes as the African country prepares for a constitutional referendum in March and elections later in the year.  

Civic organizations in Zimbabwe said the seizure of radios by the police - first reported earlier this week - will result in people not making informed decisions on the country’s constitutional referendum in March.

The state broadcaster - which is controlled by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party - is airing only positive comments about draft constitution. As a result, Zimbabweans wanting to learn other views are depending on broadcasts originating from outside the country.

Police, in turn, have been confiscating radios that pick up regional and international stations, including VOA.

Police acting illegally, advocates claim

Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesperson for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said police are acting illegally.

“We believe that this ban has no basis in terms of the law.  We are worried that state institutions are now denying people their fundamental freedoms," Mafunda said. "We are worried, but this is typical of paranoid states. We are preparing a challenge in the courts. We believe that there are chances of being successful as we defend people’s freedom[s] to associate, express themselves and everything.”

It was the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights which monitored police as they seized radios from the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which was distributing them to people in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.  

Earlier this week, Innocent Matibiri, the number two police official in Zimbabwe, told parliament that 99 percent of non-governmental organizations operating in Zimbabwe were Western-sponsored and pushing a "regime change agenda" - a term describing the removal of President Mugabe. He said the distribution of radios was part of that agenda.

“It will be a laxity on our party [police] if we just see things being donated, being distributed, some unusual kind of generosity taking place and then we say just communicating radios," Matibiri said. "Why all of a sudden have you decided have you decided to be generous, going to the rural areas distributing radios?”

No one in parliament answered him.

The power of radio

At a cafe in Harare, several journalists spoke on the condition they remain anonymous. One said he could remember when the colonial regime of Ian Smith in the 1970s attempted to control what the people of Zimbabwe were listening to. Ironically at that time, it was the ZANU-PF party that was being targeted.

"And ZANU-PF were broadcasting from Mozambique," he said. "They managed to penetrate the barrier created by Smith. The minister of information was the presenter/producer of the programs. He knows that he is going to fail.  And it is now even worse because there is now social media."

Another journalist said radio is still a very powerful medium in rural Zimbabwe. He added, "I think one thing you must not underrate is the power of radio. As elections approach, ZANU-PF is desperate to use any means possible to win an election. Most rural people access their information through the information through the radio, so ZANU-PF would not want such a development."

A third journalist said with today's technology it is more difficult to control how people get the news.

"They are simply wasting their time. In this age of technology, even if they take away those gadgets, people will have other means of getting information," he said. "Actually, they are now making people getting more interested in listening to the outside media instead of listening to their media that they have destroyed.”

Last week police in Zimbabwe warned that the activities of what they called Western-backed non-governmental organizations, verged on espionage and people receiving radios from these organizations could face arrest.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dave
February 26, 2013 9:42 PM
This is just the "tip" of the iceberg.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs