Govt jamming SW Radio

Gift Phiri

THE government — in an effort to silence independent voices ahead of the March 31 legislative poll — has been jamming broadcasts of a British-based radio station that beams to Zimbabwe

using transmission equipment located at the Thornhill airbase, the Zimbabwe Independent heard yesterday.


Official sources told the Independent yesterday that the equipment being used to jam SW Radio Africa broadcasts was imported from China, which has close political and trade links with Zimbabwe, especially in the telecommunications domain.


BBC Monitoring, which monitors news media throughout the world, said in a statement it established on March 16 that SW Radio Africa’s three daily broadcasts to Zimbabwe were being “deliberately jammed”.


“The 1600 GMT broadcast on 11.845 khz was drowned by a 1 khz signal,” BBC Monitoring said. “The 1700 and 1800 GMT broadcasts were jammed by interference of a rotary kind.”


Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders this week appealed to a United Nations body, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), to intervene and stop the Zimbabwean government from jamming the short-wave radio broadcast beamed to Zimbabwe from London.


Reporters Without Borders said it was “outraged” by Zimbabwe’s jamming of the privately-owned radio station which employs Zimbabwean journalists living in exile. The station is manned by a group of former Zimbabwean state broadcasters, led by Gerry Jackson, a veteran broadcaster. Jackson was fired from ZBC after informing the nation, through her programme on the then popular Radio Three, of trouble spots during a nationwide work stoppage.

“We’re still being jammed,” Jackson said. “We had Plan B but now we’re already on to Plan C. For the full three hours of evening broadcasts we will be on 3230 khz in the 90 metre band. For the first hour of evening broadcasts we will also be on 6145 khz in the 49 metre band. And for that first hour we will also be on 11845 khz in the 25 metre band.”


In its letter to the Geneva-based ITU, Reporters Without Borders asked the UN body “to seriously examine this situation, which constitutes a grave violation of Harare’s undertakings towards the United Nations”.