Tag Archives: SW radio Africa

SW Radio Africa says June elections in Zimbabwe would be unlawful

SW Radio Africa/allAfrica

The new Constitution that was formally gazetted by Robert Mugabe on Wednesday makes his desired June election date technically unlawful, with months worth of preparations constitutionally required.

Mugabe and his ZANU PF party have been pushing for elections to be held as soon as the current Parliamentary term comes to an end on June 29th. This is the official date that marks the end of the fragile unity government between ZANU PF and the two MDC factions.

But according to the new set of laws, which Zimbabweans voted for in a referendum in March, a number of key amendments, national processes and other prerequisites are needed between now and the announcement of an election date.

According to a position paper published by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), aimed at trying to clarify when an election could be held, the timing of elections is “difficult to estimate and essentially depends on when Parliament will complete election-related amendments and when those amendments become operational.”

The lawyers explained that certain electoral processes have changed in the new Constitution, and therefore the current Electoral Act, regulations, and other laws related to elections “must be amended so that they comply with the new Constitution.” At the same time, the new charter states in section 157(5) that all amendments to the Electoral Law and any other law relating to elections must be made before an election date is proclaimed.

“Once an election date is announced, absolutely no amendments can be made to the Electoral Law or other laws relating to elections, either by Parliament, or by the President using his executive powers under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act. The President therefore has to wait for all electoral amendments to be adopted by both Houses of Parliament and he must sign them into law before he can announce an election date,” the lawyers explained.

For ZANU PF’s June election date therefore to be legal, all these amendments need to happen almost instantly. On top of that, a mandatory 30 day voter registration and inspection exercise is required after the gazetting of the new Constitution. The lawyers said that the failure to carry out this exercise “will be a violation of the new Constitution.”

The lawyers explained that at the very earliest, Mugabe could announce an election date half way through the registration exercise, but only if all the previously mentioned amendments have been finalized and are operational. The lawyers also stated that once an election date is proclaimed, “a minimum of 44 days (14 days between proclamation of the date and the sitting of the Nomination Court, and a further 30 days between the sitting of the Nomination Court and Polling Day) must elapse before actual voting.”

“If the above processes are not complied with there will be a constitutional crisis that would give rise to the real probability of protracted constitutional litigation,” the lawyers warned.

Blessing Vava from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which campaigned against the adoption of the new charter, said on Thursday that such constitutional regulations might not make any difference if Mugabe wants an early election.

“ZANU PF has a history of not respecting the constitution and the President has repeatedly made unilateral decision regardless of the laws. We already see the agitation of ZANU PF to have an election in June, when Parliament expires, and it is likely they are going to push a bit to have the election sooner (than the constitution stipulates),” Vava told SW Radio Africa.  allafrica

Zimbabwe – police ban short-wave sets and radios ‘not compatible with state owned stations’

 

South West Radio Africa

Police ban Short Wave radios

By Violet Gonda 20 February 2013

Police have announced a ban on ‘specially designed radios’ that are ‘not compatible with state owned stations’, claiming the devices would be used to communicate hate speech ahead of polls scheduled for this year.

In a move seen as an attempt to silence external radio stations, such as SW Radio Africa and VOA’s Studio 7, broadcasting to Zimbabwe via shortwave and medium wave, police spokesperson Charity Charamba threatened to deal with organizations that helped to distribute portable radios, saying recipients would also be arrested.

She told journalists at a press conference in Harare on Tuesday: “We have information that some people or political parties are engaging in illegal activities, that is to say they are distributing illegal communicating devices to unsuspecting members of the public.

“We strongly believe that the intentions of such people are not holy but meant to create and sow seeds of disharmony within the country, especially now that the country is about to embark on the referendum and harmonised elections.”

The shocking news comes as police upped their onslaught on civil society organization looking for subversive material, gadgets and recordings.

The state controlled Herald newspaper confirmed that hundreds of shortwave radios have so far been confiscated, especially in the rural areas.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC Communications minister, told SW Radio Africa that it was an ‘empty ban’ saying: “It’s laughable, ridiculous and misconceived. There is no way you can put effective ban on the hearing of people. You cannot put an effective ban on the ability of people to talk.”

He said it is bizarre that it is being said by an institution that is supposed to observe the rule of law in the country. The minister said there is no government policy or any law that can be used by the police to enforce such a ban.

The minister said such a pronouncement is very worrying as the country moves forward with the hope of free and fair elections.

“It’s a poisonous development that would make the plebiscite environment very un-conducive.” Chamisa added.

ZANU PF’s Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu was unavailable for comment.

The ban on radios has been slammed by various nongovernmental organizations. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) said there is no clarity on what exactly these ‘communications devices’ that were confiscated were, as well as the lack of clarity on what basis the radio sets or their distribution is also deemed illegal.

“A reading of Section 38B of the Broadcasting Services Act states that one is not prohibited from possession of a receiver as long as it is in accordance with the terms and conditions of a listener’s licence as issued by the ZBC.

“The importance of a radio set cannot be over-emphasised as it is a generally affordable gadget used for receiving information by the public. The right to receive and impart information and ideas is enshrined in Section 20 of the current constitution as a vital component of citizens’ right to freedom of expression,” read a statement by the media watchdog.

The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), an umbrella body of community radio initiatives in Zimbabwe, said: “The banning of radio sets to marginalised communities is not only undemocratic, but is a clear indication that the inclusive government has no intention to promote media freedom and access to information in this country. The main question we must ask is why our citizens are resorting to alternative means to access information and exercise their right to free expression?”

“The banning of solar powered radios and subsequent distribution to not only marginalised rural communities but also areas not receiving ZBC transmission, is a clear attitude of a government which does not embrace principles of democracy- participation, openness, transparency, accountability and development,” ZACRAS chairperson Gift Mambipiri said.

Co-Home Affairs Minister Teresa Makoni revealed, through her Facebook page, that all radios that are receivers only, without ability to transmit, are perfectly legal and that there is no law at present which disallows anyone donating radios to the public.

However the minister said she held lengthy discussions with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, who said he is concerned that NGOs always intensify distribution just before elections.

Makone said: “I was very clear that airwaves are still restricted to other parties, that is why my party is distributing radios to our poor rural members…in the meantime he will have his engineers verify that the radios are simple receivers.”

Observers say this response ignores the fact that there is likely to be massive intimidation as the average police officer will not know the difference between a receiver and two-way radio communicators.