I was talking with some like-minded friends at a local Hamfest recently, drifting conversations between topics as is the standard when catching up. We started talking about Hams in Venezuela, what can be implied by what they don’t say, Cuba and the new restrictions the government has placed on its amateurs, and finally, just a tad bit on clandestine radio operations. This morning this story came across by usual news blotter and it’s disturbing to say the least.
Usually during severe government instability with a coming crackdown, Amateur Radio licenses are one of the first things to get pulled- the narrative must be controlled, with any potential communications between dissident groups being cut. The previous amateur allotments are then heavily monitored for traffic by anyone other than ‘authorized users’. Now to what degree the repression can be maintained is anyone’s guess. But when the president of your nation is making statements like this, it’s time to kit up.
According to the article, the licenses were cancelled due to “non-payment of license fees“. Unlike here in the US, South Africa requires an annual renewal. However what’s left out is the question of whether or not the trust holders were actually notified or if the official statement can even be taken at face value. My guess would be no. The article may have indicated that the government regulating agency attempted to notify those delinquent on their fees, but it would not surprise me in the least if those notices were never sent out, possibly even pre-selecting potential dissidents for cancellation to have them call the offices and complain just to map out the dedicated (because governments never do that, do they?).