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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Zimbabwe denies banning red on TV
President Robert Mugabe wearing an Aids ribbon
An Aids activist said she had been told to remove her red ribbon
Zimbabwe's government has denied banning the colour red from TV because it is the symbol of the opposition.

The HIV/Aids red ribbon was apparently the first casualty of the edict, reported South Africa's Star newspaper on Tuesday.

But Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper denied this and described the suggestion as "disgusting".

"Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) has not banned Aids ribbons," ZTV boss Mrs Makore told The Herald.

Symbolic colour

During election campaigns, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) encourages its members to wave red cards in the air like football referees, asking for the removal of President Robert Mugabe.

"The colour existed well before MDC and will, no doubt, outlive its short and dour political life," said Secretary for Information and Publicity George Charamba, dismissing the colour ban.

Zimbabwe's national flag
Red in the national flag symbolises blood spilt in the liberation struggle
But according to The Star, Aids activists participating in the weekly Aids discussion programme Perspectives were told by ZTV producers to remove their red ribbons before filming.

"We were told to take off our red ribbons. When we asked why, we were told it's because of the colour," activist Martha Tholanah is quoted as saying.

However Mrs Makore said presenters wore the red ribbons and guests were also invited to wear them on the state-controlled broadcaster.

"During the recently held National Aids Conference in Zimbabwe, the red ribbon was a constant feature on ZTV," she said.

Mr Charamba said red is a symbolic colour in Zimbabwe and in the national flag the colour symbolises the blood split during the independence struggle.

The country has no private broadcasters and only a few independent newspapers.

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