|SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe|
Mugabe regime resumes jamming SW Radio Africa broadcasts
By Lance Guma
Robert Mugabe’s regime has resumed jamming news broadcasts from SW Radio Africa, despite the existence of the coalition government with the MDC, that is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression. On Wednesday evening the first half hour of our broadcast featuring Newsreel was drowned out by a heavy noise, sounding like a slow playing record.
SW Radio Africa listeners told us that soon after the news ended the jamming noise stopped and the rest of the broadcast featuring current affairs programming could be heard clearly.
Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel he was not aware of the jamming. He said; ‘We will have to start gathering our facts on the matter before coming up with our position.’ Deputy Information Minister Murisi Zwizwai’s phone went unanswered the whole day. But a source told us the Central Intelligence Organisation, which falls under the President’s Office, is running the operation.
In 2005 Mugabe’s regime began jamming SW Radio Africa frequencies just before the controversial Operation Murambatsvina. It was reported that the jamming equipment and expertise was provided by China and at the time we spoke to a soldier who says he was sent to China to be trained in jamming techniques. The jamming was then extended to include signals from Voice of America’s Studio 7, in clear violation of international laws.
In March 2007 then Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga admitted they were jamming our broadcasts. Speaking in parliament Matonga boasted that the government was generating electronic interference to prevent reception of the broadcasts. "We cannot allow foreigners to invade our airwaves without our authority. We will continue to do it. We need to protect our sovereignty. If you go to England you will not receive any foreign radio station."
SW Radio Africa is run by exiled Zimbabweans who, because of repressive media legislation, were not allowed to broadcast from home. In 2000 the station, then called Capital Radio, challenged government’s broadcasting monopoly and won its case in the Supreme Court. But after just 6 days of broadcasting from a local hotel the station was shut down by Mugabe using his presidential powers.
The national chairman of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Loughty Dube said; ‘It’s quite surprising because this inclusive government has made a commitment to promote a diversity of views and a diversity of media. It is imperative that they do not select which voice they want in this diversity.’
In a related issue it was also this week that co-Home Affairs Minister, Theresa Makone, said she was unaware of an order issued by her Permanent Secretary banning paintings done by Bulawayo based artist Owen Maseko depicting the Gukurahundi era.