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Police Raid Kwekwe Based Community Radio Station

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Police on Tuesday raided Radio Kwelaz offices in Kwekwe, Midlands Province, saying the community radio station was operating illegally.

Officers, in company of the Criminal Investigation Department's officer in charge, soldiers from the President’s Office, and Law and Order officers are charging that the radio station does not have a broadcasting license.

According to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe) the police arrived with a search warrant in the morning and started dismantling all the studio equipment and taking compact disk productions that Radio Kwelaz has produced.

Radio Kwelaz representative, Irene Kalulu, who was present during raid, informed Misa-Zimbabwe that the police indicated that their production of CDs is a violation of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).

Kalulu also said the police alleged that the community radio initiative is broadcasting indirectly.

VOA spoke to Radio Kwelaz board chairman, Howard Masaninga, who said he was surprised when he arrived at the office to be greeted by the police armed with a search warrant.

Masaninga said although they had audio recordings, the station was not broadcasting but training reporters in hopes of securing a radio license when the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe calls for applications.

"Given the prevailing environment in Zimbabwe with regards to community radio broadcasting there haven’t been any calls for applications and as such after having set up our initiative as a community radio project we have been training our staff in preparation,” said Masaninga.

A few community radio stations have had run-ins with the police including Bulawayo-based Radio Dialogue which was recently raided.

Although media proponents have called for the opening of airwaves to community stations, the government still has not called for applications for more stations.

Masaninga said they will now wait for police to return to them, and are working with their lawyers on the matter.