By Alex Bell
4 March 2013
Community radio initiative Radio Dialogue has become the latest group to criticise the nationwide police crackdown on civil society, after its studios were raided and 180 radios were seized.
The raid happened last Friday morning at the Hillside based Ingwe Studios, a subsidiary of Radio Dialogue. Armed with a search warrant police officers seized the wind-up radio sets and also detained the group’s programming head, Zenzele Ndebele. He was held for questioning for most of the day before he was released.
Ndebele was charged with possession of ‘smuggled’ radios, as well as possessing the radios without a ZBC license. He was interrogated about the source of the radios, which were recently declared illegal by the police.
The countrywide police crackdown on civil society groups has continued to intensify in recent weeks, with raids on the premises of different organisations and some arrests. The police have insisted that they are clamping down on the distribution of ‘illegal’ radio sets, being used to allegedly “promote hate speech”, and have been using this as the basis for their raids.
At a press conference on Monday Radio Dialogue and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), issued a joint statement and said this crackdown violates the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that formed the unity government. The two groups called on the co-Ministers of Home Affairs to urgently intervene and stop the police campaign.
SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme said the two groups also tried to dispel other media reports that had accused Radio Dialogue of being part of a “regime change agenda.”
“They were very critical of the police action and the accusations that they are pursuing this (regime change) agenda, which they strongly denied. They also said that Zenzele (Ndebele) was interrogated by CIO officers and not police,” Saungweme said.
Ndebele will appear in court on Tuesday.