By Nomalanga Moyo
5 March 2013
The trial of Zenzele Ndebele, programming head at Radio Dialogue, failed to kick off after police indicated they will call him when they are ready.
Ndebele had been expected to appear in court in Bulawayo on Tuesday, facing charges of possessing smuggled solar powered radios and possessing a radio receiver without a valid Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) licence.
This is the second time Ndebele’s court appearance has been moved. He had been scheduled to go to court on Monday but failed to do so after he spent the whole morning being interrogated at the police Bulawayo Law and Order offices.
Bulawayo-based lawyer Matshobana Ncube said the police had realised that they have no case against Ndebele, hence the delaying tactics.
He said this was a case of the police persecuting those that dared to differ with ZANU PF rather than having a genuine case for prosecution.
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo on Monday, Radio Dialogue Chairperson Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo said: “We believe this move is meant to suffocate the free flow of information as the country moves towards critical periods of the constitutional referendum and the elections.”
Last Friday the police raided Hillside-based Ingwe Studios, a subsidiary of Radio Dialogue and seized 180 wind-up radio sets. They also detained Zenzele Ndebele for interrogation before releasing him.
Meanwhile the crackdown on civil society organisations continued in Masvingo after provincial governor Titus Maluleke summoned over 45 NGOs to a meeting on Friday to announce wide ranging restrictions on their work.
Maluleke was flanked by top police officers in the province when he read the riot act to the NGOs, and also announced that the meetings would be held monthly, according to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
Last year February, the governor banned 29 NGOs in the province.
NGO leaders who attended the meeting were reportedly forced to reveal their work plans and the names of their partners. They were then told that from now onwards they should work with government departments and the security sector in all their projects.