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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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September 4, 2010, 2:28 pm

 

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a long time since the news broadcasts on Short Wave Radio Africa have been deliberately jammed by loud, repetitive electronic noises but suddenly, alarmingly, its back. 

The jamming of SW Radio Africa began at 7.20pm on the night of the 1st September 2010. The news bulletin was by then more than two thirds completed and a report on the need for extra funding for the constitutional outreach programme was just about to be aired. A loud interference broke into the broadcast, the repeated tones continuing until 8.00 pm, making it impossible to hear the remainder of the news reports or the following half hour programme.

Suspicions were immediately raised and the automatic question is:  What’s going on? What is it that the Zimbabwe government doesn’t want us to know? 

Its been over ten years since the fight for political dominance in Zimbabwe destroyed agriculture and business, chased 4 million people out of the country and turned our lives upside down; ten years during which we all learned what signals to look out for when something is up. The jamming of SW Radio Africa is one of those very clear signs and eyebrows are up.

You would think that that with the explosion of cell phone lines in the country and the return of an independent daily newspaper there wouldn’t be a need for radio jamming anymore, but that’s not the case. For the vast majority of Zimbabweans a newspaper is a luxury; computers, emails and internet access are a remote dream and sitting listening to a short wave radio station for two hours a night is the only way to get information that’s not blatant propaganda.

So what is that they don’t want us to know?

Could it be the news that a Bulawayo artist is facing charges with a 20 year prison term for an art exhibition?

Or the fact that the former education minister and Mashonaland East Governor is in a renewed land grab on the few remaining farms in and around Marondera ?

Perhaps it’s the continuing reports of intimidation and harassment surrounding the constitutional outreach programme.

Maybe it’s the 24 point document outlining action to be taken to apparently resolve issues outstanding from the tri party political agreement - issues which are 18 months overdue.

Or maybe, the jamming of SW Radio Africa is being done so that we can’t hear the voices of ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives in a country where fear, intimidation and harassment are still all around us all the time and the only real change we see from our huge government is food in our shops.

When SW Radio Africa asked MDC Information minister Nelson Chamisa what was behind the radio jamming, Mr Chamisa said he didn’t know the station was being jammed. His response was a mirror image of MDC co Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone, When asked about the arrest and detention of a Bulawayo artist, Mrs Makone said she didn’t know about it.  How soon they’ve forgotten that SW Radio Africa was their only voice before they got into Zimbabwe’s massive government – a voice they don’t listen to anymore?

Ironically the jamming of SW Radio Africa doesn’t make less people listen to the broadcasts, but exactly the reverse because now even more people want to know what the government are trying to hide. Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy.



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