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Zimbabwe Presidential Spokesman Says Foreign-Based Radio Stations Illegal

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said the fact that technology allows such stations to broadcast into Zimbabwe doesn’t make them legal, holding that such activity breaches the Global Political Agreement

Zimbabwe presidential Spokesman George Charamba has responded to comments made last week by United States Ambassador Charles Ray, insisting that foreign-based radio stations like VOA's Studio 7, which he calls "pirate" stations, are illegal.

Charamba said the fact that technology allows such stations to broadcast into Zimbabwe does not make them legal, and such activity breaches the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing that underpins the current unity government.

Charamba's comments followed remarks by Ray to journalists on World Press Freedom Day last week, saying the legality of such radio stations is determined by the law in the countries in which they are based, and by international conventions.

Ray said some government officials have condemned these stations because they "do not like messages that are broadcast by the so-called pirate radio stations."

Besides VOA's Studio 7, stations providing news and current events programing to the country from abroad include Short Wave Radio Africa and the Voice of the People. SW Radio Africa is based in Britain; VOP operates from South Africa.

Media Institute of Southern Africa Senior Programs Officer Nyasha Nyakunu commented that charges such broadcasts are illegal overlook the absence of independent players in the local broadcasting sector. He told VOA's Tatenda Gumbo that the government has not fulfilled its GPA mandate to license independent Zimbabwean broadcasters.

Nyakunu said Zimbabwe needs more than the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, still the only authorized voice on the airwaves, as media diversity is essential.