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Government shuts down private radio station

Police on 4 October 2000 shut down a private radio station Capital Radio which was operating from a makeshift studio at the five-star Crown Plaza Hotel.

According to Capital Radio co-owner Gerry Jackson, a police “Support Unit” armed with AK47 assault rifles arrived at the radio station’s makeshift studios on the 16th floor of the 5-star Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Harare at about 4pm on 4 October.

The police were led by assistant commissioner Liberman Ndlovu. Capital Radio’s lawyers Anthony Brooks and Jonathan Samkange delayed police action for several hours.

Ndlovu initially told Brooks that he was “waiting for a search warrant.” This gave the station’s lawyers time to obtain an order from High Court judge Ishmael Chatikobo barring police seizure of equipment.

Ndlovu initially said that he would respect the order but he reportedly received a call from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo after which he told the radio’s lawyers that he would not respect the court order.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 00HARARE5651, GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

00HARARE5651

2000-10-05 15:16

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ3556

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 05651 01 OF 02 051517Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 CIAE-00 CIP-00   DODE-00

SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   FCC-01   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00

INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00  AC-01   NSAE-00

OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00

P-00     SP-00   SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00

DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /011W

——————8E2B6D 051518Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7292

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 005651

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PD (COX, ROBERTSON, HOWARD, SANDERS)

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

PASS USAID FOR A/AID-RMCCALL, AFR/SA-NNEWMAN, AFR/SD-

DWELLER, AFR/SA-CREINTSMA, AA/AFR-VNEWTON, AND BHR/OTI-

MSCOTT

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/10

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ECPS ZI

SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO

STATION

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 05651 01 OF 02 051517Z

 

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD FOR REASONS 1.5

B/D.

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: DURING THE EVENING OF OCTOBER 4, THE

GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE WILLFULLY IGNORED A COURT ORDER

AND SHUT DOWN THE RECENTLY LAUNCHED PRIVATE BROADCASTER

CAPITAL RADIO. HEAVILY ARMED POLICE (SEVERAL WERE

CARRYING AK47 ASSAULT RIFLES) APPEARED AT THE RADIO’S

MAKESHIFT STUDIO IN THE 5-STAR CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL IN

DOWNTOWN HARARE AT ABOUT 1600 ON OCTOBER 4 AND DEMANDED

THAT THE STATION CEASE BROADCASTING. LAWYERS FOR THE

RADIO STATION WERE ABLE TO DELAY SHUTDOWN OF THE RADIO

FOR SEVERAL HOURS, AND OBTAINED A COURT ORDER THAT

BARRED THE POLICE FROM SEIZING THE STATION’S EQUIPMENT.

THE POLICE INITIALLY INDICATED THAT THEY WOULD COMPLY

WITH THE COURT ORDER, BUT RETURNED AT ABOUT 2300, BROKE

DOWN THE DOOR TO THE STUDIO, AND SEIZED THE EQUIPMENT.

DURING THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME, UNIFORMED POLICE AND

UNIDENTIFIED CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (PROBABLY CIO

AGENTS) APPEARED AT THE HOMES OF CAPITAL RADIO’S MAJOR

PLAYERS. THEY ENTERED AND SEARCHED THE HOME OF STATION

CO-OWNER GERRY JACKSON, AND ESTABLISHED PRESENCE AT, BUT

DID NOT ENTER, THE HOMES OF OTHER PEOPLE NOW OR

PREVIOUSLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE STATION. THE TIMING OF

THE POLICE ACTION AGAINST CAPITAL RADIO’S BROADCAST

FACILITIES AND KEY PERSONNEL COINCIDES WITH PRESIDENT

MUGABE’S SIGNING OF A NEW SET OF REGULATIONS GOVERNING

COMMERCIAL BROADCASTING IN ZIMBABWE. THE ELEMENTS OF

THESE NEW REGULATIONS ARE REPORTED IN A SEPARATE

TELEGRAM. CAPITAL RADIO IS NOW OFF THE AIR AND FACES A

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 05651 01 OF 02 051517Z

FUTURE OF LEGAL BATTLES. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) ACCORDING TO CAPITAL RADIO CO-OWNER GERRY

JACKSON AND PRESS ACCOUNTS, A POLICE “SUPPORT UNIT”

ARMED WITH AK47 ASSAULT RIFLES ARRIVED AT THE RADIO

STATION’S MAKESHIFT STUDIOS ON THE 16TH FLOOR OF THE 5-

STAR CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN HARARE AT ABOUT 1600

ON OCTOBER 4. THE POLICE WERE ACCOMPANIED BY MEMBERS OF

ZIMBABWE’S CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION (CIO).

DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE POLICE, LED BY ASSISTANT

COMMISSIONER LIBERMAN NDLOVU, AND CAPITAL RADIO’S

LAWYERS ANTHONY BROOKS AND JONATHAN SAMKANGE, DELAYED

POLICE ACTION FOR SEVERAL HOURS. NDLOVU INITIALLY TOLD

BROOKS THAT HE WAS “WAITING FOR A SEARCH WARRANT.” THIS

GAVE THE STATION’S LAWYERS TIME TO OBTAIN AN ORDER FROM

HIGH COURT JUDGE ESHMAIL CHATIKOBO BARRING POLICE

SEIZURE OF EQUIPMENT. THAT ORDER EXPIRES AT 1600 ON

OCTOBER 5. ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER NDLOVU INITIALLY SAID

THAT HE WOULD RESPECT THE ORDER. ACCORDING TO JACKSON,

NDLOVU THEN RECEIVED A CALL FROM INFORMATION MINISTER

JONATHAN MOYO, AFTER WHICH HE TOLD THE RADIO’S LAWYERS

THAT HE WOULD NOT RESPECT THE COURT ORDER. NONETHELESS,

POLICE LEFT THE HOTEL AT ABOUT 2230 WITHOUT HAVING

ENTERED THE HOTEL ROOM SERVING AS THE STATION’S STUDIO.

AT THAT POINT, THE RADIO’S LAWYERS ALSO LEFT THE HOTEL.

ABOUT 30 MINUTES LATER, AT 2300, HOTEL MANAGEMENT CALLED

JACKSON TO INFORM HER THAT THE POLICE HAD RETURNED, WERE

BREAKING DOWN THE DOOR TO THE STUDIO AND SEIZING THE

EQUIPMENT. THE STUDIO WAS AUTOMATED AND NO STATION

STAFF WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME OF THE SEIZURE. CAPITAL

RADIO DOES NOT KNOW WHERE ITS EQUIPMENT IS NOW, BUT

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 05651 01 OF 02 051517Z

ASSUMES IT IS BEING HELD BY THE POLICE OR OTHER

GOVERNMENT OFFICERS. CAPITAL RADIO BEGAN OPERATIONS ON

SEPTEMBER 28 IN THE LEGAL VACUUM CREATED BY THE

SEPTEMBER 22 SUPREME COURT RULING THAT THE EXISTING

BROADCASTING LAWS WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

 

3. (C) POLICE ACTION AGAINST PEOPLE NOW AND FORMERLY

ASSOCIATED WITH CAPITAL RADIO ALSO BEGAN AT ABOUT 1600

ON OCTOBER 4. POLICE AND, ACCORDING TO GERRY JACKSON,

CIO OFFICIALS ENTERED AND SEARCHED HER HOME AT THAT

TIME. SHE WAS NOT HOME. ACCORDING TO MS. JACKSON’S

NEIGHBORS, POLICE SAID THAT THEY HAD A WARRANT FOR HER

ARREST. JACKSON’S LAWYER IS CURRENTLY WORKING TO

DETERMINE WHETHER POLICE HAVE A WARRANT OR SIMPLY A

DESIRE TO INTERVIEW HER. POLICE AND NON-UNIFORMED

GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL ALSO APPEARED AT THE HOMES OF

STATION CO-OWNER MIKE AURET, JR. (HE WAS NOT HOME), HIS

FATHER MIKE AURET, SR. (AN OPPOSITION MEMBER OF

PARLIAMENT), AND SEVERAL OTHER PEOPLE. NONE OF THESE

HOMES WERE ENTERED OR SEARCHED. JACKSON SAYS THE POLICE

APPEAR TO BE WORKING FROM OLD DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION

BECAUSE THEY ARE TARGETING SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN

ASSOCIATED WITH CAPITAL RADIO FOR MONTHS OR YEARS. THE

RADIO STATION WAS OFFICIALLY INCORPORATED IN 1996, BUT

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ3559

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 05651 02 OF 02 051518Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 CIAE-00 CIP-00   DODE-00

SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   FCC-01   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00

INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00

OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00  PRS-00   ACE-00

P-00     SP-00   IRM-00   SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00

PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00

/011W

——————8E2B72 051518Z /38

O 051516Z OCT 00

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7293

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 005651

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PD (COX, ROBERTSON, HOWARD, SANDERS)

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

PASS USAID FOR A/AID-RMCCALL, AFR/SA-NNEWMAN, AFR/SD-

DWELLER, AFR/SA-CREINTSMA, AA/AFR-VNEWTON, AND BHR/OTI-

MSCOTT

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/10

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ECPS ZI

SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 05651 02 OF 02 051518Z

STATION

 

NEVER OPERATED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 28, 2000. AMONG THE

HOMES THE POLICE VISITED ON OCTOBER 4 ARE THOSE OF

FORMER STATION OWNER BRIAN LATHAM (HE SOLD THE STATION

TO JACKSON AND AURET IN 1999), AND BRIAN POTTS, A FORMER

CAPITAL RADIO STAFFER WHO EMIGRATED TO AUSTRALIA EARLIER

THIS YEAR.

 

4. (C) GERRY JACKSON AND MIKE AURET, JR. ARE CURRENTLY

STAYING WITH FRIENDS AND CONSULTING WITH THEIR LAWYERS

ABOUT THEIR NEXT STEPS. THE LAWYERS ARE ATTEMPTING TO

DETERMINE IF THERE ARE CHARGES OR ARREST WARRANTS

PENDING AGAINST JACKSON, AURET OR OTHER STATION STAFF.

GERRY JACKSON, A BRITISH CITIZEN WITH PERMANENT

RESIDENCE STATUS IN ZIMBABWE, TOLD US THAT POLICE

COMMISSIONER AUGUSTINE CHIHURI HUNG UP ON BRITISH HIGH

COMMISSIONER PETER LONGWORTH WHEN LONGWORTH CALLED TO

PROTEST THE POLICE INVASION OF JACKSON’S HOME.

 

5. (C) CAPITAL RADIO’S LAWYERS ARE ALSO NOW SEEKING AN

EXTENSION OF THE HIGH COURT’S ORDER BARRING POLICE FROM

SEIZING OF THE STATION’S EQUIPMENT. ALTHOUGH THAT WOULD

BE A MOOT ORDER NOW THAT POLICE HAVE IGNORED THE INITIAL

ORDER AND SEIZED THE EQUIPMENT, IT COULD BE AN IMPORTANT

STEP IN THE LEGAL BATTLES NOW SHAPING UP.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: THE DUST HAS NOT COMPLETELY SETTLED,

BUT IT SEEMS EVIDENT THAT CAPITAL RADIO’S IMMEDIATE

FUTURE IS IN THE COURTS RATHER THAN ON THE AIRWAVES. AS

THEY BEGAN BROADCASTING ON SEPTEMBER 28, JACKSON AND HER

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 05651 02 OF 02 051518Z

PARTNERS PUBLICLY STATED THAT THEY WOULD ABIDE BY

ZIMBABWE’S LAWS. THEIR RECOURSE TO THE HIGH COURT ON

OCTOBER 4 SHOWS THAT THEY DO INTEND TO OPERATE WITHIN

THE FRAMEWORK OF THE LAW. SADLY, THE ACTIONS OF THE

POLICE, AND PRESUMABLY OF INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN

MOYO, SHOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT SHARE CAPITAL

RADIO’S RESPECT FOR THE NATION’S LAWS. THIS IS YET

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE’S BLATANT

CRACK DOWN ON THE MEDIA AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO ACT

OUTSIDE THE LAW TO MAKE SURE THE AIRWAVES ARE FULLY

CONTROLLED BY GOVERNMENT MEDIA. THIS IS INDEED A

DISTURBING DEVELOPMENT. END COMMENT.

 

MCDONALD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

(64 VIEWS)

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