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State Zim radio plays 'Talking 'Bout a Revolution as Harare riots rage

25 August 2016, 09:01News24 Correspondent

Harare - As riot police fired teargas and water cannon at protesters in central Harare, a DJ on Zimbabwe's state radio agreed to play a rather daring choice of song: Tracy Chapman's Talking 'Bout a Revolution.

Amid mounting reports of looting and police brutality mid-afternoon on Wednesday, PowerFM - which is part of the pro-Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation - belted out: "Poor people gonna rise up and get their share."

In scenes later described as akin to a "war zone" by one private daily, helmeted police in the central business district turned on passersby and those suspected of taking part in a march by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Amateur video footage apparently taken looking down on one Harare street shows passengers jumping out of a bus that has tear gas billowing from its windows. Media watchdog MISA-Zimbabwe confirmed that freelance journalist Lucy Yasini had been assaulted by police.

Tightly controlled 

An electronics store was one of those reported looted. A van belonging to the state broadcaster was also set on fire. 

"Finally the tables are starting to turn," the song continued on Power FM. It had been requested by a listener.

Then it was time for the 4 o'clock news bulletin. There was no mention of the protests on the radio. But an impending rise in local fertiliser production was covered. 

State radio in Zimbabwe is tightly controlled and never hints at any support or even sympathy for critics of longtime leader Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980. 

But listeners sometimes ask if DJs and journalists working for the broadcaster are totally committed to the party line, as was reported by News24 during a shutdown in July.

Social unrest is on the up in Zimbabwe as cash shortages and unemployment bite. Mugabe promised to create 2.2 million jobs ahead of elections in 2013. Many Zimbabweans have been asking where these jobs are. 

Opposition parties are planning a combined demonstration in Harare on Friday.

- News24


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