A SATELLITE dish and ancillary equipment which was supposed to be delivered by Reuters to the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers, has been confiscated by government at Beitbridge borde
r post Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy the media account manager for Reuters (Africa) confirmed that the driver of the truck which was carrying the satellite dish to Harare from South Africa was arrested after paying duty to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) at the border and the equipment was confiscated.
The driver has since been released but the satellite dish and the truck that was carrying the equipment are still being held by at the border.
The equipment is for receiving data only but the authorities at the border, including police and intelligence officers, believe that the newspapers would like to use the equipment to broadcast messages to recipients abroad during the election period.
The seized equipment can be found at most news organisations which receive news and pictures from Reuters. The news agency owns the receiving equipment and users pay subscription fees. Similar equipment is already installed at the Zimbabwe Independent and the seized gear was meant to upgrade the current system.
The publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard has since written to Zimra who have referred the paper to the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. The regulator has since asked the publisher to provide specifications of the equipment and what it would be used for.
Reuters logistics manager Garry Fielding last week said there was no clear reason why the equipment had been confiscated at the border but he thinks the matter is political.
“The reason they gave is that the machine, a receive-only dish, is meant for transmission,” he said.
Fielding told the Independent that Reuters were now working on how the equipment could be released from the border.
“We are now consulting with the South African embassy and other people to liaise with the people responsible and make new arrangements on the transportation of the equipment to Harare,” he said.