Tag Archives: Why Radio

SW Radio Africa: Police targeting children in radio raids

Zimbabwe-Map(Source: SW Radio Africa)

By Nomalanga Moyo
14 March 2013

The illegal seizure of wind-up radios reached new levels this week with reports that the police are now using primary school pupils to source information about the receivers.

Villagers in Lupane revealed that the police have been visiting schools and asking little children in Grade 0 and Grade 1(aged between 4 and 6 years) whether their parents own or listen to any radios.

This follows reports that suspected state security agents on Tuesday raided several homesteads at Mpofu village in the Gwampa area and confiscated the wind-up radios.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa one villager who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said the police have been going to schools, writing down names, and then visiting those suspected of owning the radios by night.

She said although the agents will be wearing civilian clothes, the villagers know it is the police since they have been announcing their ban on radios.

Our source said she suspects the police are aware of the popularity of shortwave radios in the area, hence they are now confiscating them.

“The police have been announcing that villagers should not be in possession of these radios. Their reason is that we listen to news broadcasts from outside the country which criticise ZANU PF.

“Such harassment by the state security agents normally escalates during election time, which indicates that we are not free to exercise our individual choices if we can’t even listen to different views offered by these shortwave radio stations,” she added.

On Tuesday an MDC official from Mpofu Village, Cosmas Phiri, told the NewsDay newspaper that MDC members were raided shortly before midnight on Monday.

Phiri, who was with some of the affected villagers, told NewsDay that a group of state security agents confiscated at least 10 radios from more than 10 people.

The night raids have stirred up fear within the community, following threats that those who refused to surrender their radio receivers will be abducted and “made to disappear” invoking memories of Gukurahundi.

Since the announcement of the constitutional referendum date on February 15th, Zimbabwean police have embarked on a nationwide campaign targeting civic society organisations and individuals.

On February 19th the police announced a ban on ‘specially designed’ radios, which they argued will be used to promote hate speech ahead of the polls.

Following the ban several organisations have been raided, including community radio initiative Radio Dialogue where police seized more than 180 wind-up radio sets and arrested its managing editor.

Last month, officers ransacked the offices of poll observers ZESN as well as those of violence monitoring group the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), in search of the so-called “illegal” radios.

The police have since arrested ZPP head Jestina Mukoko and charged her with, among other things, illegally importing short wave radios.

Thanks, Rich, for passing this news along. Read the full article and follow news on the radio ban at SW Radio Africa.

Zimbabwe: are shortwave radios now illegal?

Analog Radio DialAccording 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.

Click here to read Violet Ganda’s full report on SW Radio Africa.

Thanks, Rich, for bringing this to my attention.

The relevance of shortwave radio for UNESCO’s World Radio Day 2013


Student in Uganda tunes an Ears To Our World self-powered shortwave radio. (Photo: ETOW partner, The Empower Campaign, Uganda)

Wednesday, February 13th 2013 is World Radio Day.  UNESCO describes World Radio Day as “a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves.”

A worthy cause.

UNESCO asked me to record a segment about our non-profit, Ears To Our World, and the relevance of radio in honor of World Radio Day.

Here’s my (brief) contribution:

Radio 4: And now an urgent SOS message…

This is a fascinating Radio 4 documentary about a BBC service that typically had a target audience of one individual.  Before the proliferation of telecommunications in the 1990’s, the BBC’s SOS message service acted as a communications link of last resort for people who needed to be urgently connected with loved ones.

This radio documentary reminded me of the fact that, even in our information age, radio can interact with a large audience of listeners who are doing everything from working to driving in a uniquely efficient manor.

I listened to this documentary yesterday, but it will be available on the BBC website for 5 more days (as of time of posting). Thanks to Andy Sennitt for bringing this documentary to my attention. 

(Source: BBC)

Radio 4 used to broadcast SOS messages – “could Mr and Mrs Snodgrass, believed to be travelling in the Cotswolds please ring this hospital where their auntie is dangerously ill”.

Eddie Mair wants to know more about them. He hears from listeners whose lives were dramatically changed through the SOS service. These short messages were transmitted regularly on The Home Service, and later Radio 4, for much of the 20th century. They appealed for relatives of dying people, often on holiday and thus, before mobile phones and internet cafes, uncontactable, to return home before it was too late.

Eddie invited readers of his Radio Times column to send in their recollections of the SOS Message Service, and little did the PM Presenter expect such a rich response of vivid memories, first person experiences and in one case, unexpected consequences as a result of the broadcast.

Some of these remarkable testimonies are told, in understated, haunting and even cheery ways in this narrative tribute to radio, and a nation, – “as it was”. Best summed up by the tale of a six year old girl in the North East who while staying with a relation in 1958, was hospitalised with a very serious illness. She survived and tells Eddie her story. In the days of very few domestic telephones, the BBC’s SOS message brought her parents to her bedside from London courtesy of an observant member of the public who heard the message and recognised the car number plate that had been announced.

The SOS Service, was the vision of John Reith, the first General Manager, and later Director General of the BBC. But its heart was the listener, as Eddie reveals.