US embassy cable - 01HARARE1177

FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS CONFIDENTIAL

Identifier: 01HARARE1177
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE1177 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-03-30 11:23:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PROP PHUM KPAO PINR 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.

301123Z Mar 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6391

PAGE 01        HARARE  01177  01 OF 02  301119Z 
ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DINT-00  DODE-00  
      DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   FAAE-00  FBIE-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  BBG-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /010W
                  ------------------D94883  301120Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8539
INFO NSC WASHDC
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001177 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PROP, PHUM, KPAO, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01177  01 OF 02  301119Z 
STATE'S PROPAGANDA EFFORTS 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR 
REASONS 1.5 B/D. 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: IN AN HOUR-LONG MARCH 27 MEETING, THE 
RECENTLY FIRED EDITOR OF THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED DAILY 
"THE HERALD" SPOKE OPENLY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT'S USE 
OF THE PAPER AS A PROPAGANDA TOOL.  FORMER "HERALD" 
EDITOR RAY MUNGOSHI (35) (PROTECT) TOLD EMBOFF ABOUT 
DAILY HARASSMENT FROM INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN 
MOYO, THE MINISTER'S ACTIVE SUBVERSION OF HIS 
EDITORSHIP, THE MINISTER'S EFFORTS TO PLANT FALSE 
STORIES IN THE NEWSPAPER, CRUMBLING MORALE AT THE 
PAPER AND MUNGOSHI'S FEARS THAT MOYO'S DETERMINATION 
TO RUN THE PAPER WILL END UP DESTROYING IT.  WHILE 
MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT LIKELY INCLUDED SOME EMBELLISHMENT 
OF HIS ROLE IN DEFENSE OF MEDIA FREEDOM, HIS ACCOUNT 
OF DIRECT CABINET-LEVEL INTERFERENCE IN THE NEWSPAPER 
RING THOROUGHLY TRUE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) RAY MUNGOSHI'S EDITORSHIP OF THE GOVERNMENT- 
OWNED AND CONTROLLED "HERALD" LASTED ONLY 7 MONTHS. 
HE WAS APPOINTED EDITOR ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2000, AND 
SACKED ON MARCH 14, 2001.  HE SUCCEEDED BORNWELL 
CHAKAODZA, WHO HAD BEEN EDITOR FOR TWO-AND-A-HALF 
YEARS.  INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO SACKED 
CHAKAODZA FOR HIS ATTEMPTS TO REBUILD THE "HERALD'S" 
CREDIBILITY AFTER ITS SHAMELESSLY PARTISAN COVERAGE OF 
THE JUNE 2000 PARLIAMENTARY CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION. 
(NOTE: BETWEEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM OF 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01177  01 OF 02  301119Z 
FEBRUARY 2000 AND THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN LATE- 
JUNE 2000, THE HERALD'S DAILY CIRCULATION PLUMMETED 
FROM ABOUT 80,000 TO ABOUT 40,000.  CHAKAODZA'S 
EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE EDITORIAL INTEGRITY OF THE 
PAPER WERE DRIVEN BY FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS NEEDS. 
HIS POLICIES DID SUCCEED IN RAISING THE CIRCULATION OF 
THE "HERALD" BACK TO AROUND 70,000 COPIES PER DAY. 
END NOTE) 
 
3.  (C) ACCORDING TO MUNGOSHI, HE ACCEPTED THE JOB 
DETERMINED TO CONSOLIDATE RECENT GAINS IN CIRCULATION 
AND KEEP THE "HERALD" FINANCIALLY VIABLE BY DEFENDING 
IT FROM GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE.  INITIALLY, HE SAID, 
ZIMPAPERS (THE HOLDING COMPANY FOR ALL GOVERNMENT- 
OWNED NEWSPAPERS) MANAGING DIRECTOR TOMMY SITHOLE 
SHIELDED HIM FROM THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION.  THAT 
DID NOT LAST, HOWEVER, AND BY DECEMBER AND THE ZANU-PF 
PARTY CONGRESS, INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO 
CALLED MUNGOSHI ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS, USUALLY AT 
ABOUT 0600 IN THE MORNING.  MUNGOSHI SAID THAT THESE 
CALLS OFTEN LASTED 30 TO 45 MINUTES, AND WERE OFTEN 
ANGRY DIATRIBES ABOUT THE "HERALD'S" LACK OF SUPPORT 
FOR THE GOVERNMENT.  MOYO ALSO USED THESE PHONE CALLS 
TO TELL MUNGOSHI WHAT THE NEXT DAY'S EDITORIAL SHOULD 
BE, OR WHAT STORY HE WANTED TO SEE ON THE FIRST PAGE. 
MUNGOSHI SAID THAT HE STOOD UP TO MOYO WHENEVER HE 
COULD, BUT CONFESSED THAT THE PRESSURE WAS SOMETIMES 
TOO MUCH AND HE WOULD "LIE LOW" FOR A WEEK OR TWO JUST 
TO STOP THE EARLY MORNING RANTING. 
 
4.  (C) MUNGOSHI ALSO TOLD US THAT MINISTER MOYO WOULD 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  01177  01 OF 02  301119Z 
SEND READY-TO-PRINT STORIES TO THE PAPER AND EXPECT TO 
SEE THEM PUBLISHED WITHOUT QUESTION OR ALTERATIONS. 
HE DESCRIBED ONE SPECIFIC INCIDENT IN WHICH MOYO SENT 
A STORY ALLEGING THAT LEADING ZIMBABWEAN BUSINESSMAN 
STRIVE MASIYIWA (ECONET CELLULAR) WAS INVOLVED IN 
ILLEGAL FOREIGN EXCHANGE DEALINGS.  MUNGOSHI, WHO 
KNOWS THE BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN MASIYIWA AND BELIEVES 
HIM TO BE AN HONEST, LAW-ABIDING MAN, DETAILED TWO 
REPORTERS TO CONFIRM THE DETAILS OF THE STORY.  THE 
REPORTERS DETERMINED THAT THERE WAS NO BASIS TO THE 
STORY, SO MUNGOSHI REFUSED TO RUN IT.  THAT DECISION 
PROMPTED A BARRAGE OF VERBAL ABUSE FROM MOYO, WHO 
APPARENTLY TOLD MUNGOSHI THAT HE HAD NO RIGHT TO 
QUESTION ANY STORIES MOYO WISHED TO HAVE PUBLISHED IN 
THE "HERALD." 
 
5.  (C) IN THE WAKE OF THE MASIYIWA INCIDENT, MUNGOSHI 
SAYS THAT HE BECAME ACCUSTOMED TO FINDING STORIES IN 
THE NEWSPAPER THAT HE HAD NEVER BEFORE SEEN OR 
APPROVED.  MINISTER MOYO WENT DIRECTLY TO SUB-EDITORS 
AND PRODUCTION STAFF TO HAVE STORIES PLACED IN THE 
PAPER AFTER MUNGOSHI HAD APPROVED AN EDITION AND "PUT 
IT TO BED."  MOYO'S BYPASSING OF MUNGOSHI HAD 
DISASTROUS RESULTS ON MORALE AT THE PAPER AND SEVERELY 
UNDERMINED WHAT MUNGOSHI SAYS WAS HIS DETERMINATION TO 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6392 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  01177  02 OF 02  301120Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DINT-00  DODE-00 
      DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   FAAE-00  FBIE-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  BBG-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /010W 
                  ------------------D9488F  301120Z /38 
R 301123Z MAR 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8540 
INFO NSC WASHDC 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 001177 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS) 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PROP, PHUM, KPAO, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01177  02 OF 02  301120Z 
STATE'S PROPAGANDA EFFORTS 
 
MAKE THE "HERALD" A PAPER "FOR ALL THE PEOPLE OF 
ZIMBABWE." 
 
6.  (C) TO HIS SURPRISE, MUNGOSHI WAS SELECTED BY MOYO 
TO BE ONE OF THREE JOURNALISTS TO INTERVIEW PRESIDENT 
MUGABE ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESIDENT'S BIRTHDAY. 
THIS IS REGARDED AS AN HONOR RESERVED ONLY FOR THE 
MOST TRUSTED AND LOYAL JOURNALISTS.  MUNGOSHI TOOK 
THIS AS A SIGNAL THAT MOYO HAD DECIDED TO CHANGE TACK 
AND ALLOW THE "HERALD" GREATER INDEPENDENCE.  THREE 
WEEKS AFTER THE INTERVIEW, HOWEVER, MOYO DEMANDED 
MUNGOSHI'S RESIGNATION.  MUNGOSHI REFUSED TO RESIGN 
AND MOYO PROMPTLY FIRED HIM.  MUNGOSHI AND "SUNDAY 
MAIL" (ALSO GOVERNMENT-OWNED) EDITOR FUNNY MUSHAVA 
WERE FIRED ON THE SAME DAY, 10 DAYS AFTER MOYO SACKED 
ZIMPAPERS MANAGING DIRECTOR SITHOLE.  MINISTER MOYO 
REPLACED BOTH EDITORS WITH MEN KNOWN TO BE SYMPATHETIC 
TO THE MINISTER'S DESIRE TO USE THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED 
MEDIA AS A BLATANT PROPAGANDA INSTRUMENT. 
 
7.  (C) COMMENT: MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT OF HIS EDITORSHIP 
IS SOMEWHAT SELF-SERVING.  HE PORTRAYS HIMSELF AS A 
BRAVE DEFENDER OF MEDIA INDEPENDENCE, BUT THE 
"HERALD'S" RECORD OF THE LAST 7 MONTHS DOES NOT OFFER 
MUCH EVIDENCE OF INDEPENDENT REPORTING.  NONETHELESS, 
MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNTS OF MINISTER MOYO'S HARASSMENT AND 
EVENTUAL DE FACTO EDITORSHIP OF THE PAPER RING TRUE. 
MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT CONFIRMS THE ARROGANCE AND 
DESTRUCTIVE DETERMINATION OF INFORMATION MINISTER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01177  02 OF 02  301120Z 
JONATHAN MOYO TO USE THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED MEDIA IN ANY 
WAY HE CHOOSES TO PROMOTE PRO-GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA 
AND LIES.  MUNGOSHI'S EXPERIENCE ALSO CONFIRMS THE 
ENORMOUS POWER AND LATITUDE FOR ACTION INFORMATION 
MINISTER MOYO CURRENTLY HAS IN ZIMBABWE. 
 
8.  (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: MUNGOSHI IS REALISTIC WHEN 
IT COMES TO HIS OWN FUTURE IN ZIMBABWE: "I'M FINISHED 
AS A JOURNALIST IN THE COUNTRY," HE SAYS.  "WHO WOULD 
HAVE ME NOW?"  HE HAS TURNED DOWN REQUESTS FROM THE 
BBC AND SABC FOR INTERVIEWS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE AT 
THE "HERALD," PROBABLY WISE SINCE HE HAS A LAWYER 
WORKING FULL TIME TO "ASSESS THE QUANTUM OF THE 
DAMAGES" RELATED TO HIS FIRING.  MUNGOSHI SAYS HE 
WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO UNIVERSITY, GET A GRADUATE 
DEGREE IN JOURNALISM, AND PERHAPS BECOME A PROFESSOR 
OF JOURNALISM AT A ZIMBABWEAN UNIVERSITY.  FOR THE 
TIME BEING, HE IS WORKING ON ENGINEERING THE LARGEST 
POSSIBLE SEVERANCE DEAL FROM ZIMPAPERS, AND BASKING IN 
THE PLEASURE OF PEACEFUL EARLY MORNINGS.  END COMMENT. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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