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Posted on Thursday, 21 February 2013 19:09

Zimbabweans lose Radios ahead of polls

By Janet Shoko

Police in Zimbabwe are confiscating radios that are 'not compatible with state owned stations', claiming the devices would be used to communicate hate speech ahead of polls scheduled for this year.

 



The move announced on Tuesday is viewed as an attempt to silence external radio stations broadcasting to Zimbabwe via shortwave and medium wave.



Charity Charamba, national police spokesperson, said they were hunting for "communication devices" which she said were "meant to sow seeds of discontent within the country" and to communicate "hate speech".



Distribution and possession of radios is now also illegal and perpetrators would be arrested, she warned.



Hundreds of radios have been seized in searches of homes in the past few days. 



Charamba added: "We have information that people or political parties are engaging in illegal activities and distributing illegal communicating devices to the public.
  


"We strongly believe that the intentions of such people are not holy but meant to create and sow seeds of disharmony within the country, especially now that the country is about to embark on the referendum and harmonised elections."



The shocking news come as police upped their onslaught on civil society organisations looking for 'subversive material, gadgets and recordings.'



President Robert Mugabe's regime crackdown on free speech less than a month before a key referendum on a new and supposedly democratic draft constitution has been condemned by media organisations.



Observers say Mugabe fears that the solar/wind-up radios mainly manufactured in South Africa, are enabling otherwise unconnected residents to hear broadcasts from international stations.



The short-wave radios are popular, and informal "radio clubs" have developed in villages, where people congregate nightly at the home of a neighbour who owns one.



Many villagers already own the radios and have in the past been harassed by war veterans and Zanu PF militia who confiscated the gadgets in volatile areas during the bloody 2008 presidential election run-off period.



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