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Police hold onto broadcaster's equipment, minister makes pronouncement on possible licence application, second station shut down

(MISA/IFEX) - On 9 October 2000, the Zimbabwe High Court reserved judgement in the matter
involving Capital Radio and the government, allowing police to hold onto the equipment it seized, returned and then re-seized from the radio station on 6 October. Reserving her judgement, Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza said she needed time to look at the provisions of the new broadcasting regulations before making a ruling.

On 6 October, the government filed an urgent application seeking variation of the order granted to Capital Radio compelling police to return their seized equipment. The equipment was initially seized, apparently illegally, in a police raid on the station's base in a Harare hotel late on 4 October. On 6 October, police returned the equipment in compliance with a court order to this effect granted to Capital Radio, but then immediately seized the equipment again in terms of the new broadcasting regulations passed under the Presidential Powers (temporary measures) Act.

Addressing journalists after the court hearing, Minister of State for Information Jonathan Moyo told journalists that Capital Radio would never be granted a licence because of its predominantly white ownership. The "Daily News" quoted him as saying: "All the directors are white and one of them, Gerry Jackson, has been confirmed to be British. We are going to make sure that no single foreigner will be given a licence to broadcast in this country, particularly if it is a Briton."

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has reported that police have established the location of FM100, another private radio station, and have dismantled their equipment. The station was said to have been broadcasting from a house in Harare. The station also went on air shortly after the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the state's monopoly over the airwaves.

Background Information

On the night of 4 October, police located and raided the studios of private broadcaster Capitol Radio, at Harare's Monomotapa Hotel. Capital Radio had been broadcasting since 28 September
in the absence of any broadcasting regulatory framework and following a 22 September Supreme Court ruling which nullified the state's broadcasting monopoly.

The raid was conducted despite Capitol Radio's interdict barring the police from confiscating the station's equipment until 4:30 p.m. (local time) on 5 October. The homes of the directors, Mike Auret Jr and Jackson, were also raided and apparently also in defiance of a court order prohibiting the search.

On 4 October, following an application by the radio, the High Court ordered Capital Radio to stop broadcasting for ten days until it had been granted a frequency and had its site and equipment inspected, while the police were ordered to return the station's confiscated equipment. The police did this on 6 October, but then immediately seized the equipment again in terms of the new and hastily enacted broadcasting regulations. The government also made an urgent application seeking a variation of the order compelling the police to return the station's equipment.

The raid on the station happened the same day the government enacted new broadcasting regulations in terms of the Presidential Powers (temporary measures) Act.

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