Zimbabwe: With a Radio Ban, Mugabe Sharpens the Old Enemy's Weapon

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Today's listener

But Mugabe may be fighting a losing battle. Technological advancement is no longer so slow. Today's listener is not only more stubborn, but also more privileged to access - if not own - alternative media sources, like the internet and digital satellite TV.

Nowadays, most of the banned radio sets are imported from Asia and are being distributed to ordinary Zimbabweans by NGOs.

Radio is also accessible via cell phone and computer. Most Zimbabweans now own cheap Asian-import cars fitted with radios that can access VOA's Studio 7, Mugabe's most despised exiled station with coverage even wider than that of the FM state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC).

Radio Voice of the People and Short Wave Radio Africa are two other exiled stations that attract a generous listenership.

And the stricter Mugabe gets about the ban's imposition, the more ravenous the appetite of Zimbabwean citizens grows. They want to hear precisely what the state broadcaster cannot - or will not - put to their domain.

The best of 2013 - 12

This is the 12th article in a series that features the best-read and most interesting articles of 2013. It was originally published on 2 April.

It’s what you might call one of history’s repeated ironies: liberators who turn into oppressors. You can ask around in many an African country what that’s like. For instance in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

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