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Radio Democracy for Africa:
"White" Clandestines and the Post-Cold War World
By Nick Grace C., April 2, 1998
Revised October 17, 1998
With thanks to Martin Schoech, Tom Sundstrom and Dave Alpert
Radio Democracy for Africa is set to begin sometime between November 1998 and January 1999.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 415, which authorizes funding for this project, on September 14, 1998.  You may read the law by following the following link.
Clandestine radio came into existence with the rise of nationalist movements across Europe and the world before World War II, eventually finding its place as an effective Cold War propaganda tool.  However, the experience of American policymakers with covert clandestines has been relatively dismal.  And since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government has had not only to reexamine its national security strategies regarding defense and military intervention - but also clandestine radio.
The announcement of President Clinton on March 28 of a new "white" overt clandestine now verifies that this form of radio now has its place in the post-Cold War era.
While visiting Botswana, whose outgoing ruler is Africa's longest-serving, Clinton unveiled the plans for Radio Democracy for Africa.  Africa, in general, he said, needs an independent radio service.  "State-run media are the norm in much of Africa; accompanying such media are often biases and positions of the prevailing political party or in some cases, repressive regimes" (Reuters.)  Radio Democracy for Africa is "aimed directly at encouraging progress toward freedom and democracy, respect for human rights, and an independent and objective media" (ibid.)
Funding for the service will come directly from the Voice of America (VOA), and in fact, Clinton pledged US$4.8 million over the next two years.  Rather than be a separate entity, as Radio Marti and Radio Free Asia are, Radio Democracy for Africa will be inserted into VOA programming.  After it begins in May 1998, the station will be broadcast 22.5 hours a week (Washington Post.)  Programming will be in nine different European and African languages directed at 19 African states (Reuters.)  According to the BBCM, targeted nations will include Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Namibia, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo/Brazzaville, Rwanda and Burundi (BCDX 359.)
According to a source within the VOA, regular hiring and expenditures are "frozen" as a result of the monies being diverted to this new clandestine station as well as to the planned Radio Free IraqRadio Free Iraq is estimated to cost US$5 million.
This article will continue to be revised when the story develops further.
Harris, John.  "Clinton Goes on Safari In Botswana Reserve."  Washington Post, March 30, 1998, A17.
"Clinton Announces Africa Radio Service."  Reuters, March 29, 1998.
Bueschel Calling DX'ers (BCDX) 359, April 5, 1998.