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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid