Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, controversially participating in communications forum in Switzerland this week, accused unnamed Western broadcasters "bent on effecting regime change in Harare" of violating the country's sovereignty with their programs.
Mr. Mugabe’s participation in the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva was itself a matter of dispute: some said he should not have been invited even though the ITU is a U.N. agency. Switzerland like the European Union has banned travel by Mr. Mugabe and other top officials of his ZANU-PF party and associates, but he was admitted for the conference.
Similar protests were lodged in 2008 when Mr. Mugabe traveled to Rome despite European travel restrictions to address a United Nations conference on food security; critics said food shortages were widespread in Zimbabwe as a result of Mr. Mugabe's land policies.
Addressing the gathering, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe is “dismayed at the continued violation of her airwaves by certain Western countries whose radio broadcasting systems are bent on effecting regime change in Harare,” but did not single out any broadcasters.
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe broadcasts news to the country seven evenings a week. The government has acknowledged jamming the program on its 909 AM frequency.
On a lighter note, Mr. Mugabe acknowledged the presence of Nelson Chamisa, minister of Information Communications Technology and spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, praising his enthusiasm.
Geneva-based human rights lawyer Marlon Zakeyo of the World Student Christian Federation told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he found President Mugabe’s comments on international broadcasters very worrisome.