According to SW Radio Africa, it appears that shortwave radios could now be considered “illegal communicating devices” in Zimbabwe:
Police have announced a ban on ‘specially designed 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.
In a move seen as an attempt to silence external radio stations, such as SW Radio Africa and VOA’s Studio 7, broadcasting to Zimbabwe via shortwave and medium wave, police spokesperson Charity Charamba threatened to deal with organizations that helped to distribute portable radios, saying recipients would also be arrested.
She told journalists at a press conference in Harare on Tuesday: “We have information that some people or political parties are engaging in illegal activities, that is to say they are distributing illegal communicating devices to unsuspecting members of 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 comes as police upped their onslaught on civil society organization looking for subversive material, gadgets and recordings.
[…]Co-Home Affairs Minister Teresa Makoni revealed [..]that […] receivers only, without ability to transmit, are perfectly legal and that there is no law at present which disallows anyone donating radios to the public.
However the minister said she held lengthy discussions with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, who said he is concerned that NGOs always intensify distribution just before elections.
Makon[i] said: “I was very clear that airwaves are still restricted to other parties, that is why my party is distributing radios to our poor rural members…in the meantime he will have his engineers verify that the radios are simple receivers.”
Observers say this response ignores the fact that there is likely to be massive intimidation as the average police officer will not know the difference between a receiver and two-way radio communicators.
Thanks, Rich, for bringing this to my attention.