via SADC went beyond its mandate on exiled media | SW Radio Africa By Tichaona Sibanda
SADC overstepped its mandate of observing the July 31st elections, by advocating for the immediate closure of exiled radio and TV stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe, according to analysts.
Political analysts and journalists interviewed by SW Radio Africa on Tuesday condemned the recommendation and described it as retrogressive.
Gideon Chitanga, a PhD candidate in politics and international studies with Rhodes University in South Africa, said the recommendation can only be described as going beyond their mandate to observe elections. He said the SADC mandate did not ask them to make recommendations about the country’s media laws.
Chitanga told our weekly program Padare-Speak out that the observer mission, led byTanzanian Foreign minister Bernard Membe, may have misdirected itself for demanding the closure of exiled media.
Presenting the report in Harare on Monday, Membe said the conduct of the July 31st elections, was ‘free, peaceful and generally credible.’
‘This is hypocrisy on the part of SADC. ZANU PF refused to reform media laws in Zimbabwe and SADC kept quiet. The reason we have these private radio stations operating outside the country is because they were denied operating licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
‘A ZANU PF government will never accept interference by other countries in its internal affairs. So why should we accept foreign interference designed to buttress a system that is expected to suppress the flow of information,’ queried Chitanga.
Wonder Guchu, a former Zimpapers journalist now working in Windhoek, Namibia said SADC’s intentions were meant to deprive Zimbabweans of alternative voices.
‘In Zimbabwe we only have ZBC radio and TV stations controlled by ZANU PF. And the other two independent radio stations are controlled by Supa Mandiwanzira, (a ZANU PF MP) and Zimpapers.
‘The reason why these stations were established outside the country is simply because they were not allowed to operate in Zimbabwe. In Namibia there are about ten state and independent radio stations, and so why is it a problem to create space for others to operate,’ Guchu said.
While the regional body applauded Zimbabwe for holding peaceful elections, it did not mention the rigging accusations made by the MDC-T and civil society organizations.