WASHINGTON — Plainclothes police have gone door-to-door in rural Lupane, Matabeleland North Province, confiscating wind-up and solar-powered shortwave radios recently donated by non-governmental organisations.
Police last month issued a controversial ban on shortwave radios nationwide, saying the gadgets are being used to help effect what they call “illegal regime change” in the country.
Most people in Zimbabwe use shortwave radios to tune in VOA and other broadcasters transmitting from outside the country.
Several villagers told VOA Studio 7 that police began their door-to-door confiscations last night and by Wednesday hundreds of radios donated by non-governmental organizations had been seized.
Some of the villagers say the police listed the names and other details of those found with the radios before confiscating them . President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, on Monday said that the government would soon summon the ambassador of an unnamed foreign embassy and told to stop distributing the radios.
Police have said the confiscated radios violate the country’s broadcasting laws, but to date have not publicly described precisely what feature or features of the radios make them illegal.
One of the Lupane villagers, who asked not to be named, said police appear to know the recipients of the donated shortwave radios.
The villager said: “What happened is like yesterday, when I was at a shop at around 2, some people from the president’s office came to me and they asked me to give them those radios, donated by [inaudible] agenda. And I said I’ve got it.
“If you want it, come and I’ll give you. And then I gave them the radio. And then this morning they came, radios were taken from 5 people, or maybe 6 people. Police are still tracing those radios. They’ve got the names of all people who have got those radios.”