Zimbabwe to protest over 'pirate' TV

Zimbabwe's government says it will
protest to South Africa over a
"pirate" TV station which is to be
based there ahead of this month's
elections.
1st TV is due to be launched later on
Friday and will be broadcast into
Zimbabwe by satellite.
Zimbabwe's state-run TV, which has a
domestic monopoly, is widely seen as
being biased in favour of President
Robert Mugabe.
1st TV's head used to work closely with
Mr Mugabe's rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai has been prime minister in
a coalition government with Mr Mugabe
since 2009 but key reforms of sectors
such as the media and security forces
have not been implemented ahead of the
elections.
Regional heavyweight South Africa
helped broker the power-sharing deal
and is still trying to mediate between the
rivals in order to avoid a repeat of the
violence which marred the 2008
election.
Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the second
round, accusing pro-Mugabe militias and
the security forces of attacking his
supporters after he gained most votes in
the first round.
On Thursday, Lindiwe Zulu, South
African President Jacob Zuma's special
adviser on Zimbabwe, told Reuters news
agency: "We are concerned because
things on the ground are not looking
good."
She has previously said the elections
should be postponed from 31 July,
prompting Mr Mugabe to call her "stupid
and idiotic".
Two days of early voting for members of
Zimbabwe's security forces on Sunday
and Monday saw many logistical
problems, such as a lack of ballot papers,
raising fears that the election will not go
smoothly.
Southern African countries are due to
meet to discuss Zimbabwe's elections
over the weekend.
Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper
suggests that South African parastatal
Sentech may be facilitating 1st TV's
broadcasts.
"We are not very sure if the South
African government is aware of what its
parastatal is doing to hurt Zimbabwean
interests. We will pursue diplomatic
channels,'' it quotes Media, Information
and Publicity permanent secretary
George Charamba, a close ally of the
president, as saying.
"We will be taking decisions mindful of
the need to cripple this pirate television
broadcast station,'' Mr Charamba said.
Andrew Chadwick, Mr Tsvangirai's
former communications director, refused
to reveal the sources of 1st TV's funding
"because of the vindictive nature of
some of the authorities within
Zimbabwe".
"The majority of our investors are
private," he told the BBC earlier this
week.
"We've also received support from
groups supporting human rights,
freedom and democracy."
He denied that 1st TV would be biased in
favour of Mr Tsvangirai, saying it would
be impartial, in contrast to the pro-
Mugabe ZBC.