WASHINGTON, December 9, 2008 - The Voice of America (VOA) is providing Zimbabweans with vital information on health, politics and international developments during the crisis that led President Bush today to join those calling for the country's leader to step down.
"The VOA's Studio 7, broadcasting in English, Shona and Ndebele, has long played a critical role in informing the people of Zimbabwe about what is happening in their country," said VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch. "The country's escalating crisis, and the worldwide attention to it, make accurate news and information more important than ever for Zimbabweans," he said.
In recent months, Studio 7, a daily radio program that has been on the air since 2003, has reported in detail on the humanitarian crisis that intensified as the death toll from a cholera epidemic climbed to over 600, largely as a result of a lack of water treatment and broken sewage pipes.
Several weeks ago, Studio 7 reported on the virtual closure of the state hospital system in Harare and other cities shortly before the cholera epidemic. In addition, Studio 7 has interviewed local health experts and international officials daily. Discussion segments allow listeners to voice concerns about the country, which has few basic commodities, soaring unemployment and sky-high inflation.
In recent days, Studio 7 brought listeners interviews with former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, both members of a delegation dispatched to Zimbabwe by the international organization of eminent persons known as the Elders. The group was barred from entering Zimbabwe by the government.
Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis - along with the refusal of President Robert Mugabe to adhere to a power-sharing agreement with designated Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - has prompted a growing chorus of international figures to call for Mugabe to leave.
Studio 7 is funded through a grant from USAID to VOA.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.