Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF's feud with foreign "pirate" radio stations continues on, and on...

Posted: 11 Dec 2009   Print   Send a link
"[I]t would seem that the people in the city take for granted the insularity of the rural masses to the relentless propaganda with which they are saturated daily. Yet the fact that these people live way beyond the range of the diffusion of radio and television makes them all the more vulnerable to the malicious propaganda as they have no way of responding with the Internet out of the reach of most of them. A former employee of a foreign organisation who once toured many areas along the border and even closer to some urban centres further inside doing humanitarian work said: "People in those areas where local radio and TV reception is poor will tell you every line of what [VOA] Studio 7 said yesterday, for instance." Stephen Mpofu, The Herald (Harare), 8 December 2009.
     "It is not surprising that Zanu-PF negotiators have flagged the issue of pirate radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe as an outstanding issue. They are buying time. What is surprising is that even brilliant lawyers from the MDC formations continue to waste time negotiating about Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa, which are lawfully broadcasting from Washington DC and London respectively. The MDC parties do not even own these stations; neither can they cause them to be banned because MDC did not set them up. For all practical purposes, Studio 7 and SW Radio are not pirate stations in the legal sense of the word. The term 'pirate radio' usually refers to illegal or unregulated radio transmissions. Its etymology can be traced to the unlicensed nature of the transmission, but historically, there has been notable use of sea vessels fitting the most common perception of ‘pirate’ as broadcasting bases. ... What is illegal under the World Telecommunications Union rules is for any country to jam frequencies which other stations are transmitting on. Zimbabwe has been violating this instrument since Studio 7 started transmitting from VOA in 2003." Takarinda Gomo, The Zimbabwe Times, 8 December 2009.
     "Foreign broadcasters such as the Voice of America's Studio Seven and London-based SW Radio Africa, among others - "pirate radio stations" in the Mugabe lexicon - also are a long-running irritant for Mugabe that he has irresponsibly added to the unity talks. Foreign broadcasters are forced to operate outside of Zimbabwe because there are no free media there. Independent radio is banned in a monopoly of government-sponsored news, information and opinion provided by the ZBC.
If the Mugabe regime really wants foreign-based stations to stop broadcasting into Zimbabwe, let it release its grip on the media there, liberalize the press and broadcasting environment, and domestic radio stations will flourish." Editorial, Voice of America, 6 December 2009. Reprinted by The Zimbabwean, 9 December 2009.
     "The Government of Botswana has noted the re-appearance of allegations in a section of the Zimbabwe media that it is hosting hostile pirate radio stations. In this respect, Botswana wishes to once more state in no uncertain terms that she does not harbour any such radio stations in her territory. With specific reference to allegations about Studio 7, it should be noted that it is a Voice of America (VOA) Programme produced in Washington D.C. and is only relayed from VOA facilities in Botswana, a fact which has, moreover, been acknowledged by the Government of Zimbabwe in the past. It can thus not be properly characterised as a radio station. ... VOA relay station, located near Selebi-Phikwe, has been in open operation for three decades. Its frequencies are filed with the International Telecommunications Union. The VOA relay transmitter was not constructed to relay to Zimbabwe alone, but to the region as a whole, including of course Botswana.The Government of Botswana is unaware of any broadcasts being relayed by VOA from the facility could be considered as hostile to Zimbabwe." Government of Botswana News, 10 December 2009.
     "Botswana must not be eclipsed in the mentality of a few Zimbabweans who believe that holding a different opinion from them is a sign of gullibility to the whims of the West. Voice of America, Short Wave Radio [SW Radio Africa], Voice of the People exist because of the failure of ZANU PF to govern properly in Zimbabwe." Communities Point via Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 9 December 2009.
     "Botswana’s new ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Gladys Kokorwe has pledged to look into Botswana’s hosting of a pirate radio station that has been broadcasting hate language into Zimbabwe in contravention of the Sadc-guaranteed Global Political Agreement. ... 'I have read about those allegations. I know about the Voice of America. I will try to dig deep and see what is happening, see how we can resolve it . . . we are neighbours,' she said." The Herald (Harare), 11 December 2009.
     "If, in 1979, [Ian] Smith had insisted on closure of Radio Maputo and Radio Lusaka as well as non-appointment of Eddison Zvogbo and others into cabinet as a precondition for concluding the Lancaster House talks, would the talks have ended? Where does ZANU get such preposterous ideas from, that MDC can close Voice of America and the Internet?" Moses Chamboko, Zimbabwe Telegraph, 11 December 2009. See previous post about same subject.