via MDC-T Gweru MP, arrested, charged over wind-up radios | The Zimbabwean 16 August 2014 by Brenna Matendere
Former Deputy Local Government minister and MDC-T MP for Gweru, Sessil Zvidzai, has been arrested and formally charged for unlawfully importing over 800 wind-up radio stations in 2010. Today the MP signed a warned and cautioned statement at the city’s law and order section. He denies the charge.
In 2010, Cleopas Shiri, the then Democratic Councils Forum Training Manager, was rounded up by the same police details and had his office ransacked. He was accused of importing the radios in question. He was, however, later acquitted by Gweru magistrate, Rutendo Muchena.
The radio receivers were meant to be distributed in the rural dwellers whose homes have no electricity.
They are powered by winding up a handle and were designed in 1991 by British inventor Trevor Baylis for use in developing countries.
However, Zanu (PF), which views rural areas as its stronghold, opposed distribution of the radios on the basis that masses would listen to stations critical of the party’s policies – such as Voice of America’s Studio 7, Radio VOP and the recently-closed SW Radio Africa. This led to arrest of Shiri who was then charged for “smuggling” the radios into the country, thereby contravening the Customs and Excise Act. It is the same law which is now being used against Zvidzai with the police arguing he was founder of Demcof.
“I Sessil Zvidzai … having been informed by Detective Sergeant Mabvuregudo of CID Law and Order Gweru that enquiries are being made in connection with a case of SMUGGLING in which it is alleged that during the period extending to October 2010 while being founder of Demcof, I unlawfully brought 847 FM multipurpose radios into Zimbabwe , make this statement of my own free will,” reads part of the warned and cautioned statement by the MP.
“I deny the allegations leveled against me. I never unlawfully brought 847 radios into Zimbabwe. I never did anything illegal and was never involved in any illegal activity… I reserve the right to add to my defence at a later stage should the need arise,” wrote the MP in his response to the charge.
After intervention of his lawyer, Brian Dube, of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the police agreed to release Zvidzai into his custody and proceed by way of summons.