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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Zimbabwe radio row worsens
Boy taking chickens to market
People in rural areas rely on radio for their information
By Grant Ferret in Harare

The legal row over Zimbabwe's first privately run radio station has deepened with the high court ordering the authorities to grant the new station a licence within 10 days.

The court also ordered the police to return equipment seized from the company, Capital Radio, during raids on Wednesday night.

The government described the ruling as not binding, saying it did not take into account new rules introduced on Wednesday by President Mugabe.

Capital Radio was shut down by the government within a week of beginning to broadcast.

Courts 'losers'

Once again the Zimbabwean government and police are in direct conflict with the courts.

Once again it seems that the courts are emerging the losers.

President Mugabe on the campaign trail
The ruling party has kept the state media under tight control
Capital Radio began broadcasting last week after the Supreme Court overturned the government monopoly.

The judgement said the new station had the right to take to the airwaves.

Not so, said the Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, who argued that no-one could broadcast without a licence.

Sweeping powers

At a news conference on Thursday the minister presented new regulations signed into law by Robert Mugabe, using presidential powers of legislation.

He said would-be broadcasters could not allocate themselves a radio frequency in defiance of the government and expect to get away with it.

The latest High Court decision contradicts the minister and says Capital Radio has not broken the law.

What is more, the court orders the head of the police to appear before it to explain why he should not be jailed for contempt following an earlier judgement forbidding the police to seize the new station's equipment.

Two of the directors of Capital Radio remains in hiding.

Others have had their homes searched by armed police.

Whatever the decisions of the courts, it seems highly unlikely that the new station will be allowed to resumed broadcasting.

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See also:

05 Oct 00 | Africa
Radio shut down defended
22 Sep 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe radio 'free for all'
23 Apr 00 | Africa
Bomb attack on Harare newspaper
19 Apr 00 | Business
Zimbabwe's economy under threat
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