Independent radio stations jammed

By a Correspondent
HARARE - Using Chinese-made equipment the Robert Mugabe regime has succeeded recently in jamming SW Radio Africa and the medium wave broadcasts to Harare of another independent station, the Voice of America's Studio 7.
The transmissions, for many people the only sourc

e of news apart from state propaganda, were still audible outside Harare – but the authorities said they were working “flat out” to silence completely Studio 7.
VOA spokesman Joe O’Connell told the Committee to Protect Journalists on July 4 that the organisation ha confirmed that the jamming was deliberate. He said Studio 7’s Short Wave and AM frequencies outside the capital remained unaffected.
At the same time, SW Radio Africa said the authorities have resumed jamming its Medium Wave frequency, focusing on Harare. The broadcasts were audible in other parts of the country.
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), in its report covering June 26-July 2, said the jamming underlined “the authorities’ pathological fear of free expression and their determination to regiment public opinion through their tyrannical control of all sources of information accessible to Zimbabweans.”
The authorities, of course, were delighted. ZimOnline quoted a Ministry of State Security official as saying there has been a “marked improvement” in efforts by the Central Intelligence Organisation and Information Ministry engineers to jam the broadcasts. Next step, the official added, was “to look for ways to completely block the signal coming via a transmitter in Botswana.”
The regime jammed SW Radio Africa’s Short Wave broadcasts ahead of the last year’s disputed March parliamentary elections and the internationally condemned Operation wrecking of urban homes and trading stalls, Operation Murambatsvina.
Zimbabweans with access only to the state-run media must have been surprised by the sudden disclosure that Tanzania’s Benjamin Mkapa – a Mugabe ally – had been appointed mediator in what they claimed, as ever, was a bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain. Up to then, MMPZ noted, the state media had maintained a tight lid about the possibility of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan getting involved, or any other mediation efforts.
But there had been just a hint of international concern about the Zimbabwe crisis. The state media gave great prominence to Mugabe saying he would not accept any intervention; that “Zimbabwe is not about to die”; and – most incredible of all – that reports of economic collapse were merely “a notion painted by Western detractors.” Mugabe added, however, that he would welcome some “financial assistance.”
Most of the private media, said MMPZ, critically examined the crisis and diplomatic efforts to solve it.
The private media also carried at least three stories depicting continued local and international pressure on the Harare authorities. These included the Canadian Parliament asking the country’s Justice Ministry to investigate ways of how to indict Mugabe for crimes against humanity.

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