On 28 June 2004, Communications Minister Clermont Gervais
Mahazaka ordered the closure of Radio Say for "broadcasting false news,
defamation and insults against the speaker of the National Assembly and a
member of the government, and breach of operating terms and
Located in Tulear, a coastal city in southern Madagascar, Radio Say was
ordered to cease broadcasting following a visit to the city by a government
delegation. The delegation had come to investigate a grenade attack that
took place on 25 June, during independence day celebrations, in which one
person was killed and about 30 others injured.
Mahazaka ordered Radio Say closed until further notice, despite the fact
that no link has been made between the attack and the station’s activities.
The minister did not provide any evidence to support the closure.
Radio Say is a private radio station known for its independent editorial
stance. It is owned by a former minister who is an associate of Didier
Ratsiraka, who governed Madagascar from 1975 to 1993 and again from 1995 to
2002. Ratsiraka was defeated in the last elections, losing to current head
of state Marc Ravalomanana following several months of turmoil in the
The closure of Radio Say is not an isolated act. Since Mahazaka’s
appointment as communications minister at the beginning of 2004, there have
been several recorded attacks on freedom of information. Private media
outlets in the country have not previously faced such harassment or
restrictions in carrying out their work.
In February, Radio Sava was also ordered closed. The station’s owner is Pety
Rakotoniaina, mayor of Fianarantsoa and a former supporter of Ravalomanana
who has since joined the opposition. Radio Sava has yet to resume its
In addition, the daily "La Gazette de la Grande Ile" received an official
warning from Minister Mahazaka after it published a statement by National
Assembly Speaker Jean Lahiniriko announcing the death of one of the victims
of the Tulear attack.