SW Radio Africa lost donor support

SWRadioAfricaAccording to Radio VOP, SW Radio Africa’s closure is due to a loss of donor support. Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Richard Cuff, for the tip:

(Source: Radio VOP)

“London-based SW Radio Africa has been forced to cease broadcasting after losing donor support.

SW Radio Africa, a non-profit station which broadcasts daily into Zimbabwe on shortwave, is winding up it operations on August 10.

Gerry Jackson, SW Radio Africa founder and editor, confirmed the impeding closure of the radio station which used to air daily between 6 and 9pm Zimbabwean time.

[…]The radio station was set up by a group of Zimbabwean journalists and started airing on December 19, 2001. The North London-based independent radio station had gathered a growing number of listeners, with its existence infuriating the Zimbabwean government.

[…]Staff at the radio station said they were disappointed that donor withdrawal had led to the downfall of the radio station.”

Read the full news item at Radio VOP.

SW Radio Africa to close down August 10

SWRadioAfricaOnly a few weeks ago we mentioned that the clandestine station, SW Radio Africa, stopped broadcasting via shortwave. It appears now that SWRA will completely close down:

(Source: Shortwave Radio Africa via Richard Cuff)

“It is with regret that SW Radio Africa announces that it is closing down. We recently stopped our shortwave transmissions but have continued to provide broadcasts via our website and other formats, but these too will cease.

We’d like to thank the organisations and individuals who have supported us for the past 13 years and the contributors to our programs who have given so willingly of their time and expertise.

In particular we’d like to thank our listeners, who have shared their lives, hopes and dreams and helped us to tell the story of Zimbabwe’s sad decline to the world.

We hope that one day Zimbabwe finally has a government who understands that its sole responsibility is to ensure a safe, healthy, prosperous life for every man, woman and child in the country.

Our first broadcast was on 19th December 2001.
Our last broadcast will be on 10th August 2014.

It’s been a privilege.

Gerry Jackson
Founder/Editor
4th August 2014”

SWRA to end shortwave broadcasts

Zimbabwe ranks 135 out of a possible 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

Zimbabwe ranks 135 out of a possible 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

The clandestine station, Shortwave Radio Africa, announced today that it will end shortwave radio broadcasts to Zimbabwe. As we’ve posted before, Zimbabwe is a country that does not exactly embrace free press. Indeed, Mugabe has even been known to order the confiscation of self-powered shortwave radios from citizens.

I have a hunch this closure is due to financial constraints. I’ve pasted SWRA’s announcement below:

SWRA shortwave broadcasts to end

Gerry Jackson
SW Radio Africa
17th July 2014

It is with regret that SW Radio Africa announces that after 13 years, our shortwave broadcasts are to end on Friday 18th July.

You have welcomed us into your homes since our first shortwave broadcast on 19th December 2001.

Our broadcasts will continue on our website, via Channel Zim through TV decoders, and by various other forms of new media.

We know how much these shortwave broadcasts have meant to our listeners in more remote areas who have so little access to news and information, and we sincerely regret that we will no longer be able to provide this service.

We would like to thank our listeners who have been such loyal supporters for so many years and also for their willingness to share the stories of their lives with us on our Callback program. This has allowed people all over the world to have a better understanding of the many crises that Zimbabweans continue to face.

We can only hope that one day, sooner rather than later, there is real media freedom that allows Zimbabweans, wherever they are in the country, easy access to what is a basic human right – freedom of information and expression.

Brian Hongwe reports on importance of shortwave radios in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe-MapMany thanks to Dave for sharing this excellent radio documentary from the BBC World Service show, The Fifth Floor. In this brief report, reporter Brian Hongwe clearly explains why police are seizing shortwave radios and arresting those who own them in the run up to the Zimbabwe elections.

Hint: Information = power / Shortwave radio = information / Those in power fear shortwave radio

Click here (or use the embedded player below) to listen to this short segment or listen to the entire program–definitely worth it!– on The Fifth Floor’s web page.

This post has been tagged in our ever-growing collection labeled: Why Shortwave Radio?

All Africa: Digital Did Not Kill the Radio Star

ChildSWRadioUgandaThis is a brilliant article on the importance and relevance of radio by David Smith with All Africa.  Below you’ll find some quotes, but it must be read in its entirety:

(Source: All Africa)

By David Smith

Radio threatens many of Africa’s big men.

Thugs working for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe have recently been confiscating and destroying receivers. Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki stopped issuing import licenses. Other iron-fisted rulers such as Swaziland’s King Mswati III and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir rarely hand out frequencies, thus reducing the range of independent radio.

The actions taken by these big men merely confirm radio’s supremacy in Africa. It may be old technology, but it is still relevant and appropriate. While not everybody owns a radio, most people have access to one.

[…]A number of radio stations based outside of Zimbabwe’s borders rely on reports from in-country correspondents who use mobile phones and the internet, particularly social media, to send their reports to distant studios.

[S]hort-wave has the advantage of sending signals over vast distances, irrespective of borders and local broadcasting restrictions.

[…]Zimbabwe is not the only country where short-wave is used to bypass restrictive broadcast legislation. Pirate, or clandestine short-wave stations, often staffed by members of the target country’s diaspora, use high-frequency transmitters to send uncensored programming to dozens of countries, including Libya, Madagascar, Sudan, Western Sahara and all the states in the Horn of Africa.

[…]Radios no longer simply transmit. They also receive. The convergence between these two communications devices has created a new community and international platform for lone, isolated voices.

The list of radio stations that do not have an SMS or social network relationship with their listeners, despite their location, is getting increasingly shorter. Any station that fails to interact with its public risks going the way of the dodo.

[…]Video and digital did not kill the radio star. Radio is stronger than ever in Africa, thanks largely to its ability to absorb and adapt to changing technology.[…]

Thanks to author David Smith and All Africa.

Just one more article filed under: Why Shortwave Radio?

RNW looks into Zimbabwe’s history of media repression

Zimbabwe-MapIronically, Radio Netherlands Worldwide was once an international voice for those living without free press. In the following RNW article,  Dlamini points out that technology is advancing at a rapid pace and media outlets increasing; however, radio remains the most accessible means of receiving news and information, and unlike technologies that rely on the Internet and mobile phone networks, radio listening cannot be easily traced or monitored by those in power.

It is my sincere hope that, somehow, RNW’s voice will once again find the means to speak for those in need of free press.

Even 33 years after winning the fight for independence, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe remains a harsh critic of the white colonial government’s system. But with his recent ban on radios, he is imposing the same oppressive tactics that he himself once fought against to liberate his people.

By Nkosana Dlamini, Harare

As I write, Zimbabwe’s statutes are being stiffened with the state oppression that Mugabe himself once fought against. A case in point is the state’s recent banning of small wind-up radios with a short-wave dial.

To understand better, let’s first rewind a few decades…

Chiefs and Commandos
Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, gained independence in 1980 after a protracted guerrilla war. At its peak, in the 1970s, the two main fighting movements, ZIPRA and ZANLA, established exiled radio stations in neighbouring countries where their fighters received training. These stations broadcast into Zimbabwe via short and medium-wave. It was the way to communicate with the local villagers who supported the war by sharing intelligence and foodstuffs.

But in a bid to thwart enemy operations, Ian Smith, the last white Rhodesian ruler, developed strategies that forced radios to be fitted with frequency modulation (FM), as opposed to short wave.

Manufactured by local Zimbabwean firms, Smith’s FM radio sets were branded with the name ‘Chief’.[…]Other radios were manufactured under the name ‘Commando’ and distributed to soldiers in the bush. The government’s intention here was to keep spirits up with music and programmes in which troops could request favourite songs and relay messages about their welfare to loved ones.

Mugabe’s heavy hand
Smith claimed – as Mugabe does now – to be shielding people from pirate stations broadcasting hate speech. In both eras, locals have been instilled with fear. They have had to resort to listening to exiled stations from under the blankets and in their barns, anxious that their neighbours might see them using forbidden radios.

[…]Even under Zimbabwe’s stringent laws today, it is not a crime to own a radio receiver. But, by day, Mugabe’s state agents confiscate the radios and harass citizens found in possession of them – a practice that gets revved up each time a Zimbabwean election looms. By night, the same agents return home to tune into exiled stations via the radios they’ve confiscated. In some instances, they distribute them among their relatives.

The state says it is confiscating the receivers because they are being brought into the country by NGOs without paying a customs fee. In some instances, the do admit they are trying to prevent ordinary citizens from accessing exiled Zimbabwean radio stations through shortwave – a unique feature in these radios.

In other ways, too, Mugabe has proven worse than his predecessor. He has made repeated attempts to scramble these stations’ signals. He is also allegedly responsible for the 2002 bombing of exiled station Radio Voice of the People and the 2000 and 2001 bombings of independent newspaper The Daily News.

Today’s listener
But Mugabe may be fighting a losing battle. Technological advances are no longer so slow. Today’s listener is not only more stubborn, but also more able to access alternative media sources such as the internet and digital satellite broadcasters.

Radio is also accessible via cell phone and computer. Most Zimbabweans now own cheap Asian-import cars fitted with radios that can access Studio 7, the exiled station most despised by Mugabe which has coverage even wider than that of the FM state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC). Radio Voice of the People and Short Wave Radio Africa are two other exiled stations that attract a generous listenership.

And the stricter Mugabe gets about the ban’s imposition, the more ravenous becomes the appetite of Zimbabwean citizens. They want to hear precisely what the state broadcaster cannot – or will not – put in their domain.

(Source: RNW)

Zimbabwe: More police raids in search of shortwave radios

In this case it’s not a child who was targeted in the raid, rather, the Prime Minister’s Principal Director:

Zimbabwe-Map(Source: SW Radio Africa)

A top lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, is being held by Harare police after she reacted to early morning raids leading to the arrest of Thabani Mpofu, Principal Director in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, a day after Zimbabweans voted in a constitutional referendum.

Thabani Mpofu, the Principal Director for Research and Development in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office, was taken from his home at 6am.

The police, led by Inspector Mirimbo from Law and Order Harare Central, later raided the Prime Minister’s office in Bath Road in Belgravia, leading to the arrest of feisty human rights lawyer. The police, who did not have a search warrant, are said to have been looking for shortwave radios. [Continue reading on SW Radio Africa’s website…]