US embassy cable - 01HARARE741

GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Identifier: 01HARARE741
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE741 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-02-13 14:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PGOV KPAO KDEM 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.

131400Z Feb 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0502

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      NSAE-00  OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   
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                  ------------------C50DEC  131438Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8220
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000741 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S, AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  00741  01 OF 02  131359Z 
PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA 
 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/11 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KPAO, KDEM, ZI 
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON 
THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR 
REASONS 1.5 B/D. 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE'S ASSAULT 
ON THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA HAS NOT ABATED IN THE WAKE OF 
THE BOMBING OF THE "DAILY NEWS."  THE CURRENT ATTACK 
ON PRESS FREEDOM IS, HOWEVER, MORE SOPHISTICATED AND 
MAY IN THE LONG RUN BE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THE 
DESTRUCTION OF THE "DAILY NEWS" PRINTING PRESSES.  THE 
METHODOLOGY INCLUDES SELECTIVE ACCREDITATION OF 
JOURNALISTS, EXORBITANT FEES FOR CREDENTIALING FOREIGN 
PRESS, DENYING ACCESS AND INFORMATION TO THE 
INDEPENDENT MEDIA, AND LOOMING RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN 
OWNERSHIP OR SUPPORT TO INDEPENDENT MEDIA.  THE GOZ IS 
PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS TO MUZZLE THE INDEPENDENT 
PRESS AND THE PUBLIC'S ACCESS TO INFORMATION, A KEY 
COMPONENT IN ITS STRATEGY FOR THE 2002 PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTION.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) IN SPITE OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY MINISTER 
JONATHAN MOYO'S (UNCONVINCING AND TEPID) EXPRESSION OF 
CONCERN AFTER THE JANUARY 28 BOMBING OF THE "DAILY 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  00741  01 OF 02  131359Z 
NEWS" PRINTING PRESS, THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE'S 
(GOZ) CAMPAIGN TO RESTRICT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND 
ACCESS TO INFORMATION HAS INTENSIFIED.  A FEBRUARY 3 
NOTICE IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEWSPAPERS INSTRUCTED ALL 
JOURNALISTS TO APPLY FOR NEW CREDENTIALS TO COVER 
PARLIAMENT.  THE REGISTRATION PERIOD RUNS THROUGH 
FEBRUARY 16, BUT THE APPARENT INTENT OF THIS MOVE IS 
TO ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO RESTRICT PARLIAMENTARY 
COVERAGE TO "FRIENDLY" JOURNALISTS. 
 
3. (C) THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION HAS ALSO SCRAPPED 
CENTRALIZED ISSUANCE OF PRESS CREDENTIALS FOR COVERING 
THE GOZ.  JOURNALISTS MUST NOW APPLY TO EACH MINISTRY 
OR BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE CREDENTIAL REQUIRED 
FOR ACCESS.  INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS ARE ALREADY 
FEELING THE EFFECTS OF GOZ FIATS BANNING THEM FROM 
SOME OFFICES AND EVENTS.  ALL LEVELS OF THE ZIMBABWE 
REPUBLIC POLICE, EVEN POLICE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICIALS, 
NOW FLATLY REFUSE TO SPEAK TO JOURNALISTS FROM THE 
INDEPENDENT MEDIA.  INDEPENDENT MEDIA HAVE ALSO 
RECENTLY BEEN BARRED FROM ATTENDING GOZ PRESS 
CONFERENCES AND WERE BANNED FROM THE PUBLIC VIEWING OF 
LAURENT KABILA'S BODY, AN EVENT THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED 
MEDIA COVERED FULLY. 
 
4. (U) IN JUNE 2000 THE GOZ INITIATED A US$100 
ACCREDITATION FEE FOR FOREIGN JOURNALISTS WISHING TO 
COVER ZIMBABWE'S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.  THAT FEE 
REMAINS IN FORCE, SUPPLEMENTED BY A US$500 FEE FOR A 
TEMPORARY IMPORT PERMIT REQUIRED TO BRING TELEVISION 
EQUIPMENT INTO ZIMBABWE.  THESE FEES ARE AFFORDABLE BY 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  00741  01 OF 02  131359Z 
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA STANDARDS, BUT HAVE HAD THE EFFECT 
OF REDUCING COVERAGE OF EVENTS IN ZIMBABWE BY REGIONAL 
NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, FREE-LANCE REPORTERS AND 
STRINGERS. 
 
5. (C) DURING THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4 MINISTER MOYO 
PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED HIS DETERMINATION TO LIMIT FOREIGN 
OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA IN ZIMBABWE.  FURTHERMORE, HE SAID 
THAT INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWEAN 
MEDIA SHOULD BE BANNED.  THESE STATEMENTS ARE DIRECT 
THREATS TO THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA, AND SEEM TO REFER 
DIRECTLY TO THE INTERNATIONAL FUND-RAISING CAMPAIGN TO 
HELP THE "DAILY NEWS" RECOVER FROM THE BOMBING OF ITS 
PRESSES. 
 
6. (C) THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED DAILY "THE HERALD" 
INITIALLY TRUMPETED THE FACT THAT ITS PRESSES WERE 
PRODUCING THE "DAILY NEWS" 3 TIMES PER WEEK 
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE "DAILY NEWS" BOMBING.  THEIR 
HEADLINE WAS "HERALD RESCUES DAILY NEWS."  THAT 
ARRANGEMENT, STRUCK BY THE PAPER'S MANAGING DIRECTOR 
STRICTLY AS A MONEYMAKING COMMERCIAL DEAL, WAS NIXED 
TWO WEEKS LATER BY "POLITICAL BOSSES."  THE "DAILY 
NEWS" IS NOW SCRAMBLING TO FIND ANOTHER COMMERCIAL 
PRINTER TO COVER THE 3 DAYS PER WEEK WHEN THEIR 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0503 
 
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ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  SMEC-00  INL-00 
      DODE-00  DOEE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   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    STR-00   TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00 
        /010W 
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R 131400Z FEB 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8221 
INFO NSC WASHDC 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000741 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S, AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  00741  02 OF 02  131359Z 
PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA 
 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/11 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KPAO, KDEM, ZI, 
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON 
THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA 
 
CURRENT COMMERCIAL PRINTER CANNOT PUBLISH THE PAPER. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT: THIS SYSTEMATIC ATTACK ON THE 
INDEPENDENT MEDIA FITS IN NEATLY WITH THE SIMULTANEOUS 
GOZ EFFORT TO COW THE JUDICIARY AND THE OPPOSITION, 
AND IS A KEY COMPONENT IN THE GOVERNMENT'S STRATEGY TO 
RESTRICT THE PUBLIC'S ACCESS TO ALTERNATIVE VIEWS IN 
THE RUN-UP TO THE 2002 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.  TAKEN 
BY ITSELF, THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA 
IS AN INSIDIOUS THREAT TO FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.  IN 
COMBINATION WITH THE ATTACKS AGAINST THE JUDICIARY AND 
THE OPPOSITION, IT IS A DANGEROUS ASSAULT ON 
FUNDAMENTAL, CONSTITUTIONALLY-GUARANTEED HUMAN RIGHTS 
AND WILL BOLSTER ZIMBABWE'S INCREASINGLY AUTHORITARIAN 
TREND.  END COMMENT. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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