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Pro-government war veterans force locals to remove satellite television receivers from their homes in Matabeleland South

(MISA/IFEX) - As reports of acts of lawlessness and politically-motivated violence continue to rock Zimbabwe, war veterans have reportedly ordered villagers in Matabeleland South to remove satellite television receivers from their homes.

According to "The Standard" newspaper of 25 May 2008, terrified villagers told the privately-owned weekly that the war veterans had set up bases throughout the province from which they were conducting all-night "political re-orientation" vigils.

The war veterans ordered the villagers to remove the receivers on 21 May because the broadcasts they were receiving were allegedly "misleading" them into voting against Zanu PF. Most villagers in the area can only watch and listen to South African and Botswana-based television and radio stations because of the poor transmission signals of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the sole state broadcaster in Zimbabwe.

MISA-Zimbabwe notes with great concern that these reports come hard on the heels of the torching of a truckload of 60,000 copies of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" weekly newspaper on 24 May by unknown assailants. The driver of the truck, Christmas Ramabulana, a South African national, and distribution assistant Tapfumaneyi Kancheta were severely assaulted by their attackers.

Ramabulana and Kancheta were stopped 67 km from Zimbabwe's southern town of Masvingo and forced to drive along the Chivi-Mandamabwe road for 16 km before turning into Mandamabwe Road, where the truck and its contents were set alight. According to Wilf Mbanga, the publisher of "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" and its partner publication "The Zimbabwean", the two media workers were severely assaulted before being dumped in the bush.

A clear and consistent pattern of attacks on media and freedom of expression rights is emerging in Zimbabwe amid the post-election violence and at a time when preparations are on for the holding of the presidential election run-off on 27 June.

For further information on the Ramabulana and Kancheta case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94043

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