JOINT STATEMENT ON THE RADIO DIALOGUE RAID
4th March 2013
Radio Dialogue and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) wish to make its stakeholders and the public aware of the developments regarding the raiding of Radio Dialogue on Friday the 1st of March 2013.
Around 10am on the said day, ten ZRP officers from Hillside police station pounced at a Radio Dialogue property located at No. 45 Moffat Ave in Hillside .Upon arrival at the Radio Dialogue property, the police barricaded the road that leads into the referred property and locked some people outside including staff members, with women who were selling their wares along Moffat Ave forced to disperse. The police produced a search warrant and went into the house. Some of the officers were left to stand guard at the gate which they kept locked.The search warrant was in the name of the Radio Dialogue Editor, Zenzele Ndebele, who was suspected to be in possession of 45 solar powered radio sets. The warrant mentioned that Zenzele Ndebele was in possession of 'smuggled illegal goods.'
Following their search, the officers took with them a total of 180 radio sets to Hillside Police Station together with Zenzele Ndebele, under the pretext that they wanted him to sign for the radios. On arrival at the police station, Ndebele was interrogated by officers suspected to be from the CIO department .The officers proceeded to interrogate Ndebele and wanted to know the source of the radios and why they were being distributed to different communities.
After the interrogation, Ndebele was taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station for further interrogation at the Law and Order Section. During the interrogation, the Law and Order Officers wanted to know where the radios came from and why they were being distributed. Upon completion of the interrogation, the police added an additional charge to that on the warrant. They added a charge of possession of radios without a listener's licence. The intensive interrogation lasted seven hours, and at 5pm Zenzele Ndebele was released into the custody of his legal representative ,Kucaca Phulu, until he appears in court .
Noting the charges levelled against Radio Dialogue through their representative Zenzele Ndebele, a docket was opened and a subsequent court case was scheduled for Monday, the 4th of March 2013 in Bulawayo. Ndebele has since reported to the police station and the case has been moved to tomorrow,5 March 2013.
Both ZACRAS and Radio Dialogue condemn the action by the Zimbabwe Republic Police .We call upon the Inclusive Government to draw reason from Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which clearly provides for freedom of expression and access to information for citizens including the establishment of new media organisations, community radio stations included.
We believe this move by the Inclusive Government is meant to suffocate the free flow of information as the country moves towards critical periods of the Constitutional Referendum and General Elections. Our view is that it is important for citizens to have free access to information and be able to freely express themselves in order for them to make informed decisions during this critical period and beyond.
We call upon all progressive Zimbabweans and in solidarity with Radio Dialogue, to castigate actions by those that are against the promotion of access to information and free expression .We call upon the Inclusive Government, through the co-ministers of the Home Affairs Ministry to stop the systematic crackdown on progressive forces in Zimbabwe. Radio is a powerful tool for enhancing the active participation of citizens. If this Government is not prepared to make an intervention, we will, as Zimbabwean citizens, continue to feel oppressed by our own Government.
Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo Chairperson (Radio Dialogue)
Phone: + 263 772 350 443
Gift Mambipiri Chairperson (ZACRAS)
Phone: + 263 772 717 994