We found the comments by Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Gera Sneller that she saw nothing wrong with the pirate radio station Voice of the People’s broadcasts into Zimbabwe because it was broadcasting in line with the law in the Netherlands quite condescending and an insult to our collective intelligence.
For those who may have missed the story, Ambassador Sneller paid a courtesy call on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo on Wednesday and in their deliberations, Prof Moyo expressed concern at the continued pirate broadcasts by the Netherlands-funded and hosted Radio VOP saying though the Dutch government had supported the liberation struggle it had not, at any time, funded a radio station to abet the cause of the Zanla and Zipra guerillas but now that Zimbabwe was independent, the Dutch were ironically funding a radio station for regime change propaganda.
In her response, Ambassador Sneller said as long as the radio station was legal under Dutch law, she saw no problem with its broadcasts into Zimbabwe.
It appeared lost on the ambassador that Zimbabwe and the Netherlands are two different countries and that even though we use Roman-Dutch law, our statutes do not allow pirate broadcasts.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, in particular, outlaws stations that are not licensed in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act.
BAZ has, in fact, since licensed two national stations and invited applications for community radio stations, where all applicants who are wholly or partly funded by foreigners do not stand a chance.
We thus find it odd that Ambassador Sneller believes that since Radio VOP is abiding by Dutch laws, it has the carte blanche to violate Zimbabwean laws.
This is the same thinking that sees the West refuse to accept the verdict of Zimbabweans as long as that verdict does not dovetail with the West’s foreign policy goals.
We find it quite odd that Westerners, in this day and age, still believe that their opinion is supreme, and our opinion inferior, even though Zimbabwean voters have retained the same verdict since our inaugural elections in 1980.
We would like to remind Ambassador Sneller of the absurdity of her position.
Diplomatic exchanges are predicated on mutual recognition.
When she was posted to Zimbabwe, she presented her credentials to President, and in so doing recognised him as the legitimate Head of State and Government of Zimbabwe, which mandate derives from millions of Zimbabweans who, even from the days of the dysfunctional inclusive Government, under the Global Political Agreement, collectively condemned the pirate radio stations.
We also take this opportunity to urge Zanu-PF and the Government it leads to walk the talk on the pirate radio stations.
On one hand, the revolutionary party is quite clear that pirate broadcasts are illegal but many a time we have heard Government officials and ministers being interviewed on the same pirate stations.
With such an ambivalent approach to the pirate stations on the part of Government, the Snellers of this world will continue thumping their long noses at our national laws.