ZBC Equipment Impounded At Tel Aviv Airport

Sources at ZBC said the crew, which was accompanying Mines and Mining development minister Obert Mpofu and Attorney-general Johannes Tomana to the congress held in St Petersburg,  was nearly detained at Tel Aviv Airport after Israel authorities discovered that they were carrying broadcasting equipment.

A senior official at the state broadcaster said the ZBC news crew flew from Harare to Addis Ababa enroute to Russia, but was not informed that the Ethiopian airlines which they had boarded would make another stopover in Israel.

“The crew was actually surprised to see themselves in Israel where their  camera and equipment were confisticated despite protests by Zimbabwean officials who argued that the delegation was on transit and therefore had no obligation to clear with Israel authorities,” said the source.

The official said the news crew was forced to proceed to Russia without their camera and equipment, angering Mpofu and Tomana who had hoped to use the event for a public relations blitz back in the country. The news crew has since returned home empty handed without film and equipment.

ZBC Chief Executive Officer, Happison Muchechetere was not available for comment as he was said to have gone to the Egyptian embassy and the Ministries of Media, Information and Publicity and that of Foreign Affairs, to try to secure the release of the equipment.

Officials in the Information Ministry said they were preparing to write a strong letter to Home Affairs ministry protesting against the Israeli action.

Although Zimbabwe and Israel have diplomatic relations, there is no Zimbabwean embassy in the Jewish state. The Israel embassy in Zimbabwe relocated to South Africa.

The Jewish authorities are notorious for harassing media practitioners and only a few weeks ago journalists covering the Gaza Flotilla, which was carrying aid to the Palestinian state of Gaza, which is under an Israel naval blockade, were arrested and had their cameras and equipment confisticated during a raid by Israel commandos who shot dead  nine Turkish activists, including one journalist.

The impounding of the ZBC camera which, is normally reserved for covering President Robert Mugabe, will come as a blow to the state broadcaster currently faced with a serious shortage of cameras and other equipment.