Soldiers kept in the dark

Soldiers living in army camps are not allowed to read private newspapers or tune into private radio stations, a senior army officer has confirmed.

The army official, who cannot be named, said soldiers were only allowed to read state newspapers and tune to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio and television programmes.

Foreign television channels have been criticized by Zanu (PF) party as anti-Robert Mugabe. Radio stations such as Studio 7 broadcast through the Short Wave from Voice of America, or SW Radio Africa from South Africa, are also banned.

Local private newspapers including ***The Zimbabwean, The Newsday, The Daily News, The Independent and The Standard newspapers have also been labelled pro-MDC.

“Those who read private newspapers will read them outside the camps and in hiding because if they are caught they are labelled as MDC supporters. That is why you see most of the soldiers do not have satellite dishes because they fear being victimized,” said the official.

He said there were private officers from the Military Police who were assigned to monitor the situation in various army camps throughout the country.

A junior soldier said: “This is unfair and absolute cowardice. There is need for media reform in this country. We are denied access to information and entertainment. Why should we pay for radio licenses when they deny us the right to hear what we want? They want to force us to listen to Zanu (PF) propaganda songs. Zimbabwe is a changed country and no one will ever listen to these Zanu (PF) propaganda songs anymore.”

The soldiers confirmed that they were reading private newspapers in hiding and watching foreign television channels in bars or at friends’ houses.

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