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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid