MDC allege police & CIO confiscating shortwave radios countrywide
By Lance Guma
05 December 2006
On Monday we covered the story of how Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, with the help of police in the Mataga growth point, are confiscating radios distributed by the Radio Communication Project. The radio project is meant to help rural communities in remote parts of the country access external radio broadcasts, independent of state propaganda. On Tuesday however the spokesman for the Tsvangirai MDC, Nelson Chamisa, told Newsreel the government is targeting everyone with a shortwave radio in the rural areas. He says government deliberately wants to impose, ‘an iron curtain in the country and contaminate people with their propaganda.’
Chamisa says their national office is inundated with complaints from people who have had their radios taken away and their information department is busy compiling a list of all the reported cases. Initially it had been thought radios donated to listening clubs were the prime target but by Tuesday the seizures had become indiscriminate with many people said to have lost their own private portable radio sets. Listening club members are being threatened and told they are selling out the country by listening to ‘foreign’ broadcasts. Several NGO’s donated solar powered, wind up radios for the listening clubs and Chamisa says although these are being targeted, the regime now believes it can reduce the number of shortwave radio listeners via a programme of indiscriminate national seizures.
In Mberengwa East and the Midlands North province the CIO clearly targeted listening clubs. Several teachers, who are members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and had been identified as team leaders, had their radios taken away. They were asked to produce union membership cards before the CIO confiscated the donated radios last week. Police and CIO officers are being accused of trying to block the Radio Communication Project by taking any donated radios under the pretext of investigating ‘suspicious’ content inside. Attempts to distribute 8 radios in Mberengwa East attracted the attention of the CIO in much the same way as happened in Gokwe.
Under the Radio Communication Project communities are being organised to train, and take turns as groups, to listen to local and external broadcasts of their choice. Radios are being distributed to key local people who have been identified as such by the communities themselves. Thomas Shoko, one of those who received a radio under the project, had this taken away from him by CIO officers at Mataga growth point last Thursday while Sarudzai Dube, the local Women's Clubs Trainer, also had a radio taken away from her over the weekend. Security agents came to her house while she was away and threatened her child into handing over the radio.
Sicino Dube, the Tsvangirai MDC Midlands South provincial chairman, also alleged that Zanu PF youths are helping the CIO by moving around villages and taking the shortwave radios away.