US embassy cable - 00HARARE5651

GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO STATION CONFIDENTIAL

Identifier: 00HARARE5651
Wikileaks: View 00HARARE5651 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2000-10-05 15:16:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PGOV ECPS ZI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ3556

PAGE 01        HARARE  05651  01 OF 02  051517Z 
ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  CIP-00   DODE-00  
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    FCC-01   VC-00    H-01     TEDE-00  
      INR-00   IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  
      OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   
      P-00     SP-00    SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00  USIE-00  PMB-00   
      DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W
                  ------------------8E2B6D  051518Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7292
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 005651 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/PD (COX, ROBERTSON, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
 
PASS USAID FOR A/AID-RMCCALL, AFR/SA-NNEWMAN, AFR/SD- 
DWELLER, AFR/SA-CREINTSMA, AA/AFR-VNEWTON, AND BHR/OTI- 
MSCOTT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/10 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, ECPS, ZI 
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO 
STATION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  05651  01 OF 02  051517Z 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD FOR REASONS 1.5 
B/D. 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  DURING THE EVENING OF OCTOBER 4, THE 
GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE WILLFULLY IGNORED A COURT ORDER 
AND SHUT DOWN THE RECENTLY LAUNCHED PRIVATE BROADCASTER 
CAPITAL RADIO.  HEAVILY ARMED POLICE (SEVERAL WERE 
CARRYING AK47 ASSAULT RIFLES) APPEARED AT THE RADIO'S 
MAKESHIFT STUDIO IN THE 5-STAR CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL IN 
DOWNTOWN HARARE AT ABOUT 1600 ON OCTOBER 4 AND DEMANDED 
THAT THE STATION CEASE BROADCASTING.  LAWYERS FOR THE 
RADIO STATION WERE ABLE TO DELAY SHUTDOWN OF THE RADIO 
FOR SEVERAL HOURS, AND OBTAINED A COURT ORDER THAT 
BARRED THE POLICE FROM SEIZING THE STATION'S EQUIPMENT. 
THE POLICE INITIALLY INDICATED THAT THEY WOULD COMPLY 
WITH THE COURT ORDER, BUT RETURNED AT ABOUT 2300, BROKE 
DOWN THE DOOR TO THE STUDIO, AND SEIZED THE EQUIPMENT. 
DURING THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME, UNIFORMED POLICE AND 
UNIDENTIFIED CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (PROBABLY CIO 
AGENTS) APPEARED AT THE HOMES OF CAPITAL RADIO'S MAJOR 
PLAYERS.  THEY ENTERED AND SEARCHED THE HOME OF STATION 
CO-OWNER GERRY JACKSON, AND ESTABLISHED PRESENCE AT, BUT 
DID NOT ENTER, THE HOMES OF OTHER PEOPLE NOW OR 
PREVIOUSLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE STATION.  THE TIMING OF 
THE POLICE ACTION AGAINST CAPITAL RADIO'S BROADCAST 
FACILITIES AND KEY PERSONNEL COINCIDES WITH PRESIDENT 
MUGABE'S SIGNING OF A NEW SET OF REGULATIONS GOVERNING 
COMMERCIAL BROADCASTING IN ZIMBABWE.  THE ELEMENTS OF 
THESE NEW REGULATIONS ARE REPORTED IN A SEPARATE 
TELEGRAM.  CAPITAL RADIO IS NOW OFF THE AIR AND FACES A 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  05651  01 OF 02  051517Z 
FUTURE OF LEGAL BATTLES.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) ACCORDING TO CAPITAL RADIO CO-OWNER GERRY 
JACKSON AND PRESS ACCOUNTS, A POLICE "SUPPORT UNIT" 
ARMED WITH AK47 ASSAULT RIFLES ARRIVED AT THE RADIO 
STATION'S MAKESHIFT STUDIOS ON THE 16TH FLOOR OF THE 5- 
STAR CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN HARARE AT ABOUT 1600 
ON OCTOBER 4.  THE POLICE WERE ACCOMPANIED BY MEMBERS OF 
ZIMBABWE'S CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION (CIO). 
DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE POLICE, LED BY ASSISTANT 
COMMISSIONER LIBERMAN NDLOVU, AND CAPITAL RADIO'S 
LAWYERS ANTHONY BROOKS AND JONATHAN SAMKANGE, DELAYED 
POLICE ACTION FOR SEVERAL HOURS.  NDLOVU INITIALLY TOLD 
BROOKS THAT HE WAS "WAITING FOR A SEARCH WARRANT."  THIS 
GAVE THE STATION'S LAWYERS TIME TO OBTAIN AN ORDER FROM 
HIGH COURT JUDGE ESHMAIL CHATIKOBO BARRING POLICE 
SEIZURE OF EQUIPMENT.  THAT ORDER EXPIRES AT 1600 ON 
OCTOBER 5.  ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER NDLOVU INITIALLY SAID 
THAT HE WOULD RESPECT THE ORDER.  ACCORDING TO JACKSON, 
NDLOVU THEN RECEIVED A CALL FROM INFORMATION MINISTER 
JONATHAN MOYO, AFTER WHICH HE TOLD THE RADIO'S LAWYERS 
THAT HE WOULD NOT RESPECT THE COURT ORDER.  NONETHELESS, 
POLICE LEFT THE HOTEL AT ABOUT 2230 WITHOUT HAVING 
ENTERED THE HOTEL ROOM SERVING AS THE STATION'S STUDIO. 
AT THAT POINT, THE RADIO'S LAWYERS ALSO LEFT THE HOTEL. 
ABOUT 30 MINUTES LATER, AT 2300, HOTEL MANAGEMENT CALLED 
JACKSON TO INFORM HER THAT THE POLICE HAD RETURNED, WERE 
BREAKING DOWN THE DOOR TO THE STUDIO AND SEIZING THE 
EQUIPMENT.  THE STUDIO WAS AUTOMATED AND NO STATION 
STAFF WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME OF THE SEIZURE.  CAPITAL 
RADIO DOES NOT KNOW WHERE ITS EQUIPMENT IS NOW, BUT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  05651  01 OF 02  051517Z 
ASSUMES IT IS BEING HELD BY THE POLICE OR OTHER 
GOVERNMENT OFFICERS.  CAPITAL RADIO BEGAN OPERATIONS ON 
SEPTEMBER 28 IN THE LEGAL VACUUM CREATED BY THE 
SEPTEMBER 22 SUPREME COURT RULING THAT THE EXISTING 
BROADCASTING LAWS WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL. 
 
3.  (C) POLICE ACTION AGAINST PEOPLE NOW AND FORMERLY 
ASSOCIATED WITH CAPITAL RADIO ALSO BEGAN AT ABOUT 1600 
ON OCTOBER 4.  POLICE AND, ACCORDING TO GERRY JACKSON, 
CIO OFFICIALS ENTERED AND SEARCHED HER HOME AT THAT 
TIME.  SHE WAS NOT HOME.  ACCORDING TO MS. JACKSON'S 
NEIGHBORS, POLICE SAID THAT THEY HAD A WARRANT FOR HER 
ARREST.  JACKSON'S LAWYER IS CURRENTLY WORKING TO 
DETERMINE WHETHER POLICE HAVE A WARRANT OR SIMPLY A 
DESIRE TO INTERVIEW HER.  POLICE AND NON-UNIFORMED 
GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL ALSO APPEARED AT THE HOMES OF 
STATION CO-OWNER MIKE AURET, JR. (HE WAS NOT HOME), HIS 
FATHER MIKE AURET, SR. (AN OPPOSITION MEMBER OF 
PARLIAMENT), AND SEVERAL OTHER PEOPLE.  NONE OF THESE 
HOMES WERE ENTERED OR SEARCHED.  JACKSON SAYS THE POLICE 
APPEAR TO BE WORKING FROM OLD DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION 
BECAUSE THEY ARE TARGETING SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN 
ASSOCIATED WITH CAPITAL RADIO FOR MONTHS OR YEARS.  THE 
RADIO STATION WAS OFFICIALLY INCORPORATED IN 1996, BUT 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ3559 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  05651  02 OF 02  051518Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  CIP-00   DODE-00 
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    FCC-01   VC-00    H-01     TEDE-00 
      INR-00   IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00 
      OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00 
      P-00     SP-00    IRM-00   SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00 
        /011W 
                  ------------------8E2B72  051518Z /38 
O 051516Z OCT 00 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7293 
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 005651 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/PD (COX, ROBERTSON, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
 
PASS USAID FOR A/AID-RMCCALL, AFR/SA-NNEWMAN, AFR/SD- 
DWELLER, AFR/SA-CREINTSMA, AA/AFR-VNEWTON, AND BHR/OTI- 
MSCOTT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/10 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, ECPS, ZI 
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT FLOUTS LAW AND SHUTS DOWN NEW RADIO 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  05651  02 OF 02  051518Z 
STATION 
 
NEVER OPERATED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 28, 2000.  AMONG THE 
HOMES THE POLICE VISITED ON OCTOBER 4 ARE THOSE OF 
FORMER STATION OWNER BRIAN LATHAM (HE SOLD THE STATION 
TO JACKSON AND AURET IN 1999), AND BRIAN POTTS, A FORMER 
CAPITAL RADIO STAFFER WHO EMIGRATED TO AUSTRALIA EARLIER 
THIS YEAR. 
 
4.  (C) GERRY JACKSON AND MIKE AURET, JR. ARE CURRENTLY 
STAYING WITH FRIENDS AND CONSULTING WITH THEIR LAWYERS 
ABOUT THEIR NEXT STEPS.  THE LAWYERS ARE ATTEMPTING TO 
DETERMINE IF THERE ARE CHARGES OR ARREST WARRANTS 
PENDING AGAINST JACKSON, AURET OR OTHER STATION STAFF. 
GERRY JACKSON, A BRITISH CITIZEN WITH PERMANENT 
RESIDENCE STATUS IN ZIMBABWE, TOLD US THAT POLICE 
COMMISSIONER AUGUSTINE CHIHURI HUNG UP ON BRITISH HIGH 
COMMISSIONER PETER LONGWORTH WHEN LONGWORTH CALLED TO 
PROTEST THE POLICE INVASION OF JACKSON'S HOME. 
 
5.  (C) CAPITAL RADIO'S LAWYERS ARE ALSO NOW SEEKING AN 
EXTENSION OF THE HIGH COURT'S ORDER BARRING POLICE FROM 
SEIZING OF THE STATION'S EQUIPMENT.  ALTHOUGH THAT WOULD 
BE A MOOT ORDER NOW THAT POLICE HAVE IGNORED THE INITIAL 
ORDER AND SEIZED THE EQUIPMENT, IT COULD BE AN IMPORTANT 
STEP IN THE LEGAL BATTLES NOW SHAPING UP. 
 
6.  (C) COMMENT: THE DUST HAS NOT COMPLETELY SETTLED, 
BUT IT SEEMS EVIDENT THAT CAPITAL RADIO'S IMMEDIATE 
FUTURE IS IN THE COURTS RATHER THAN ON THE AIRWAVES.  AS 
THEY BEGAN BROADCASTING ON SEPTEMBER 28, JACKSON AND HER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  05651  02 OF 02  051518Z 
PARTNERS PUBLICLY STATED THAT THEY WOULD ABIDE BY 
ZIMBABWE'S LAWS.  THEIR RECOURSE TO THE HIGH COURT ON 
OCTOBER 4 SHOWS THAT THEY DO INTEND TO OPERATE WITHIN 
THE FRAMEWORK OF THE LAW.  SADLY, THE ACTIONS OF THE 
POLICE, AND PRESUMABLY OF INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN 
MOYO, SHOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT SHARE CAPITAL 
RADIO'S RESPECT FOR THE NATION'S LAWS.  THIS IS YET 
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE'S BLATANT 
CRACK DOWN ON THE MEDIA AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO ACT 
OUTSIDE THE LAW TO MAKE SURE THE AIRWAVES ARE FULLY 
CONTROLLED BY GOVERNMENT MEDIA.  THIS IS INDEED A 
DISTURBING DEVELOPMENT.  END COMMENT. 
 
MCDONALD 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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