Police Charge MDC-T Official Over Radio Licence

Mutare, March 18, 2014 – Police on Tuesday charged an opposition party

member for contravening the country’s obnoxious broadcasting laws and

impounded his vehicle for committing the offence.

Police manning a roadblock in the eastern border city nabbed Irimayi

Mukwishu, the MDC-T losing candidate for Mutare North parliamentary

constituency and charged him with contravening Section 38 of the

Broadcasting Services Act Chapter 12:06. The police accused Mukwishu

of breaching the country’s laws by possessing a receiver which is not

authorised by a licence.

Under the country’s tough broadcasting laws, it is an offence to

possess and own a receiver which is not licenced by the state run

broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

The police impounded Mukwishu’s vehicle, a Toyota duet and “detained”

it at Mutare Central Police Station’s Traffic Section where they

recorded a warned and cautioned statement from the motorist who was

accompanied by his lawyer, Blessing Nyamaropa, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for

Human Rights.

The intervention of Mukwishu’s lawyer who challenged the police powers

to seize his vehicle and prefer charges against him led to his release

and the police indicated that they will summon the motorist to stand

trial in court once they are ready to proceed with the matter while

the “detained” vehicle was also released.

Several Zimbabweans among them Harare West legislator Jessie Majome

have petitioned the country’s courts seeking an order to force the

state broadcaster to encrypt its signal so that it is only received by

those who wish to associate with its biased programming.

In her application, Majome argued that ZBC, which has enjoyed a three

decade long monopoly on broadcasting in the country, infringed her

rights. The court challenge came after ZBC licence inspectors visited

Majome’s residence demanding proof of a television licence which she

did not possess.

The ZBC monopoly has resulted in the proliferation of exiled radio and

television stations that have tried to fill in the information gap.