Police last week banned possession of such radios and other communication devices - which could include transistor and portable radios - under the auspices of combating hate speech, though campaigners called the move illegal.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told journalists in Harare possession and distribution of such devices was illegal, and accused some political parties of deliberately distributing them “to sow seeds of disharmony within the country especially now that the country is about to embark on the referendum and harmonised elections”.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe), however, said in a statement: “Of particular concern to Misa-Zimbabwe is the lack of clarity on what exactly these ‘communication devices’ that were confisticated were, as well as the lack of clarity on what basis the radio set or their distribution is also deemed illegal.
“It is not clear as yet on what basis possession of devices such as radios meant for receiving broadcasting services can be deemed illegal.”
Misa-Zimbabwe called upon the police to state the exact nature of the illegal devices and the relevant laws criminalising them.
“The importance of a radio set cannot be over-emphasised as it is a generally affordable gadget used for receiving information by the public. The right to receive and impart information and ideas is enshrined in Section 20 of the current constitution as a vital component of citizens’ right to freedom of expression.”
The ban follows a police raid on the offices of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in Harare.