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Zimbabwe Police Raid Homes, Civic Groups Seeking Short-Wave Radios

Gwanda activist Jastone Mazhale said the police campaign to confiscate radios was motivated by the desire to silence alternative voices as the country braces for possible elections next year

Police in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South province have been raiding non-governmental organizations and visiting homes demanding the surrender of wind-up short-wave radios associated with the Voice of America’s Studio 7 program for Zimbabwe.

Civic activist Jastone Mazhale, chairman of the Gwanda Agenda, said police on Thursday visited his office and questioned him over the radios. Mazhale said the police officers indicated they were acting on orders from police headquarters in Harare.

Police are said to have raided households suspected of possessing such radios. Wind-up short-wave radios have been awarded to Studio 7 listeners in promotional contests and drawings, most recently in connection with Studio 7's LiveTalk call-in program.

Mazhale told Studio 7 that the effort to confiscate radios was an attempt to silence dissenting voices as the country braces for possible elections next year.

"They want people to listen to negative propaganda broadcast by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation linked to ZANU-PF," he said.