SW Radio Africa

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SW Radio Africa "has its roots in a station Gerry Jackson tried to start in Harare in 2000, as once-stable Zimbabwe began its descent into chaos with Mr. Mugabe's highly politicized land-reform program, which devastated the economy.

"A former DJ on the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation, Ms. Jackson was fired after she put callers on air who were critical of the government. So she took the government to court over their monopoly on broadcasting, and in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that private radio was legal.

"Ms. Jackson hastily imported a transmitter from South Africa and set up shop: a station called Capital FM in Harare. "Six days after we started, the government shut us down at gunpoint," she recalled in an interview from London this week.

"Ms. Jackson decided the only way to get independent radio into Zimbabwe was to do it from outside the country; she left for London and took advantage of improving technology to broadcast back on shortwave radio. She got funding from international pro-democracy groups, hired six other Zimbabwean journalists and they went to air in December, 2001." [1]

"(Jackson says funding comes from NGOs and other donors, but not the British government.)" [2]

"In December 2001, a new shortwave radio station launched from a base in the UK. SW Radio Africa is said to receive millions of dollars from a department of the US International Development Agency, known as the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), although according to the station its funding comes from unspecified "human rights and media freedom groups"." [3]

"The Zimbabwean information minister, Jonathan Moyo, has accused the BBC of providing it with studios, transmitters and frequencies but the BBC World Service director, Mark Byford, says the BBC has no connection with it. Diplomatic sources say OTI pays for the studios, equipment and airtime on the transmitters of what SWRA calls a "global communications provider" but declines to name. The Voice of America, which is owned by the US government, has transmitters in a number of southern and central African states. The US embassy in Harare said it could not confirm or deny Washington"s involvement. SWRA's spokeswoman, Georgina Godwin, said by email that the funding came from "human rights/media freedom groups", but would answer no further questions." [4]

"According to Radio Netherlands, BBC Radio 4 recently rebroadcast a program that had originally appeared on SW Radio Africa, "suggesting that there is some contact between them at [the] editorial level." (64) OTI gained experience in destabilizing nations through its involvement with covert operations in Yugoslavia, funding the printing of over four million newspaper and magazines, as well as supporting opposition radio and television. (65) Zimbabwe's Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo reacted sharply to the inflammatory tone of the illegal broadcasts by SW Radio Africa, accusing Western nations of "fanning tribal divisions and ethnic hatred among Zimbabweans," in order to render Zimbabwe ungovernable." [5]

Violet Gonda "is a producer and presenter for the news section of 'SW Radio Africa,' an award winning London-based station that broadcasts to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Violet has been part of this station since its inception in 2001. Together with her colleagues, she works on exposing the Zimbabwean government’s wrongdoings, especially in the area of human rights. The radio is barred in Zimbabwe and its reporters are banned from entering the country. Violet won the 2005 Best Radio Documentary of the International Association for Women in Radio and Television. Being passport-less and state-less, she had very limited travel and training opportunities and welcomed the opportunity to 'spread her wings' at Stanford." She was a 2005-2006 fellows at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. [6]



Web: http://www.swradioafrica.com

External links