Frequency jamming by Zimbabwe continues as mass action beckons

Sep 11, 2006 3:43 am
From Media Network weblog

The London-based independent broadcasting station, SW Radio Africa, has reported the Zimbabwe government seems to have gone a notch higher in jamming its frequencies to the southern African country ahead of planned mass action by civic groups next week. Station manager, Gerry Jackson said that “Recently our mediumwave transmissions were jammed and we returned to shortwave - but after a few weeks this has also been jammed. It would appear that our news bulletin is being specifically targeted. This is clearly because a program of organised, peaceful resistance has begun in Zimbabwe and is also ahead of the advertised protests by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, scheduled to begin on 13th September.”

Ms Jackson forwarded to Media Network a copy of a reception report from Harare that describes the jamming:

“4880 is jammed from 8pm [1800 UTC] with a ‘new’ type of jammer. This jammer is extremely severe and takes the form of a siren/car horn sound.Cycles within 5 seconds and its the first time I’ve ever heard it. VOA has been jammed on MW 909 this evening within Harare and that jammer was still on that frequency when this one starts up, so it rules out that jammer. So there are two currently heard.

“At 8:30pm [1830 UTC] this jammer goes off and is replaced by the jammer that was on VOA MW’s 909, less effective but still there on 4880. It still wipes you out, it is a unmodulated signal jammer but effective. You will need confirming reports ASAP from around Zimbabwe on the level of jamming that this ‘new’ jammer is capable of. But I have the unhappy feeling that it is a reactivated SW Gweru one.”

The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) recently reported the government seemed to be jamming not only SW Radio Africa but also frequencies for the Voice of America’s Studio 7 programme to Zimbabwe. Equipment sourced from China is being used to stop the independent broadcasting stations from beaming back into Zimbabwe from their foreign bases in London, Washington and Madagascar in the case of Radio Voice of the People.

“If government’s threats to stifle what it considers to be illegal broadcasting have anything to do with this development, MMPZ is again obliged to condemn it as a cynical interference with the public’s constitutional right to freedom of expression and their right to access information without hindrance,” said the media monitoring organisation.

Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa emerged precisely because of ZBH’s illegal de facto monopoly of the airwaves and serve as vital alternative sources of credible news for information-starved Zimbabweans who have to endure the blatant propagandist output of the government-controlled national public broadcaster, said the MMPZ.

The MMPZ said the government should speed up the process of licensing local independent broadcasters instead of wasting resources investing in equipment to shut down alternative sources of information.

(Sources: Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, SW Radio Africa)
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