100 percent empowerment


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The Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front’s campaign theme for the presidential elections run-off in 2008, from which Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out because of violence, was: “100 percent Empowerment: Total Independence.”

Supporting this theme, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the role of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was to “tell the true Zimbabwean story by having more programmes on the liberation war…to remind people that so much blood was lost in order for them to enjoy today’s independence.”

Ed: Seems ZANU-PF has not stopped the campaign and could use it for the next elections.


Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE463, MEDIA CRACKDOWN: INTIMIDATION INCREASES AHEAD OF RUNOFF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE463

2008-05-27 13:53

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3938

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0463/01 1481353

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 271353Z MAY 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2944

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1976

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1999

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2120

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RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1397

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1755

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2176

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4607

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1260

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000463

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

TREASURY FOR D.PETERS AND T.RAND

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

CIA WASHDC

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: MEDIA CRACKDOWN: INTIMIDATION INCREASES AHEAD OF RUNOFF

 

1. SUMMARY: Alongside the ongoing ZANU-PF directed violence in

advance of Zimbabwe’s June 27 presidential election runoff, the

Mugabe regime’s crack down on dissenting opinion is increasingly

targeting the independent media and even those within the state

media who favor more balanced coverage. According to local media

watch-dog organizations, at least five members of the foreign media

and five Zimbabwean journalists have been arrested or detained in

relation to their coverage of events in Zimbabwe since the March 29

elections, and others have been harassed and assaulted. In addition

to outright violence, the systematic control of coverage and

intimidation of journalists has also included the firing of a

high-level media official for not following ruling party orders, the

tightening of guidelines at the state-run Zimbabwean Broadcasting

Corporation by ZANU-PF leaders, and a crackdown on the opposition

press. Even as campaigning for the run-off begins, these severe

assaults and limits on freedom of expression are yet more evidence

that the conditions for free and fair elections do not exist.

Examples of arrests, detention, intimidation and assault follow. END

SUMMARY.

 

—————————-

FOREIGN JOURNALISTS TARGETED

—————————-

 

2. Foreign journalists have been a major target of the government’s

campaign against the independent media. On April 3, New York Times

correspondent and Amcit Barry Bearak and British freelance

journalist Steven Bevan were arrested for allegedly practicing

journalism without accreditation under AIPPA. Both were acquitted on

April 16 and left the country. Canadian Broadcast Corporation

correspondent Adrienne Arsenault was detained and released the same

day.

 

3. On March 27, Sipho Moses Maseko and Abdulla Ismail Gaibee, two

South African engineers from Globecast Satellite, were arrested and

accused of practicing journalism without accreditation. They were

acquitted by a magistrate and released, but rearrested after police

argued the magistrate’s ruling was defective. After spending a

weekend in jail, the South Africans were re-acquitted on April 14

and left Zimbabwe without covering the elections, although they had

in fact been accredited.

 

4. Another, journalist, British Times of London correspondent

Jonathan Clayton, was arrested on April 9, and convicted of making a

false declaration of the motives for his presence in the country.

He was fined and deported to South Africa on April 17.

 

————————–

LOCAL JOURNALISTS ARRESTED

————————–

5. On May 8, police arrested Davison Maruziva, editor of the

independent newspaper The Standard over an opinion piece by

opposition leader Arthur Mutambara that appeared on April 20 under

the headline: “A shameful betrayal of national Independence.” In the

piece, Mutambara sharply criticized Mugabe for his handling of the

general election. He also accused the government of intimidation and

questioned its right to stay in office. Maruziva was released on

bail on May 12.

6. On May 7, police detained media lawyer Harrison Nkomo over

allegations that he made an insulting statement about Mugabe on May

2. He allegedly made the statement while appearing in the High Court

on behalf of freelance journalist Frank Chikowore, who together with

the former Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists

Luke Tamborinyoka and six others, faced charges of inciting public

violence under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Chikowore

and others were initially arrested for practicing journalism without

a license under AIPPA after taking pictures of a bus allegedly

burned by ZANU-PF supporters. After discovering Chikowere was in

 

HARARE 00000463 002 OF 004

 

 

fact accredited, police charged him with burning the bus.

Chikowere’s trial is ongoing.

7. On May 5, police arrested and detained Reuters photographer

Howard Burditt for three days for allegedly using a satellite phone

to send pictures. Burditt, a Zimbabwean national was covering the

aftermath of the election, when he was arrested and jailed. In a

statement, Reuters said the company “has long had a legitimate and

fully accredited bureau in Harare, and has always complied with

Zimbabwean regulations with the aim of accurately reporting the

news.”

8. On April 10, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network (ZBC)

journalist Margaret Ann Kriel was arrested in Bulawayo and charged

with practicing journalism without an accreditation under the Access

to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) after she

allegedly interviewed several people, including opposition

politicians. She was released on bail after being detained for two

days and placed under house arrest.

 

—————

Other Incidents

—————

 

9. On May 16, four unknown assailants suspected of being ZANU-PF

supporters assaulted freelance journalist Sydney Saize in Mutare,

accusing him of being a “sell-out”. Saize sustained a swollen lip.

He writes for various online news agencies and is a correspondent

for Voice of America’s Studio 7, which has in the past year been

jammed by government for its critical reporting of the political,

social, and economic crisis in the country.

 

10. On April 17, individuals wearing army uniforms assaulted and

robbed Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Mathew Takaona. On

April 18, journalist and VOA correspondent Stanley Karombo was

assaulted by Zanu-PF supporters during Independence Day

celebrations. After the assault, police searched Karambo’s home and

then detained him for four days before releasing him without charge.

 

 

——————–

TURNING ON THEIR OWN

——————–

 

11. On May 14, Henry Muradzikwa, the CEO of the state-run Zimbabwe

Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), was fired for reportedly defying an

order by Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and

Permanent Secretary George Charamba to deny the opposition Movement

for Democratic Change (MDC) any positive radio or television

coverage and bar the MDC from placing campaign advertisements in

advance of the June 27 presidential run-off. Muradzikwa has stated

that he was unaware of the reason for his dismissal, though he did

note in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent that “nobody has

the right to instruct me on how to act as this was outside the law,”

and that directives should be issued exclusively from ZBH board

members. Muradzikwa had previously been fired from three other state

media organizations, reportedly under similar circumstances. His

replacement, Happyton Muchechetere, was a senior ZBC journalist and

former principal press officer in the office of the president. He

is considered a staunch ZANU-PF loyalist.

 

12. ZANU-PF has established an information and publicity committee

to spearhead Mugabe’s run-off campaign, chaired by ruling party

elder Patrick Chinimasa (who was also Minister of Justice until

losing his seat in the March 29 parliamentary contest). Chinimasa

and his committee will presumably control the content of The Herald

now that Muradzikwa is no longer in control.

 

—————–

ZBC Leads the Way

 

HARARE 00000463 003 OF 004

 

 

—————–

 

13. ZANU-PF’s campaign theme is “100 percent Empowerment: Total

Independence.” On May 6, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu gave

a radio interview in which he echoed the ruling party’s campaign

tactic of linking Zimbabwe’s sovereignty to ZANU-PF’s continued

leadership, stating that the role of ZBC was to “tell the true

Zimbabwean story by having more programs on the liberation war…to

remind people that so much blood was lost in order for them to enjoy

today’s independence.” Local NGOs tracking media freedom report that

the ZBC has devoted significant post-electoral reporting to

politically-motivated violence in rural areas, attributing the bulk

of culpability to the opposition and white farmers.

 

——————————

Attack on the Opposition Press

——————————

 

14. A 14-tonne truck belonging to the opposition The Zimbabawean

newspaper was stopped and burned on Sunday. The truck was carrying

60,000 copies of Sunday’s edition. (NOTE. The Zimbabwean is

published in South African and trucked into Zimbabwe. END NOTE)

The driver and distribution agent were badly beaten.

 

———————-

WATCH-DOG GROUPS REACT

———————-

 

15. Media watch-dog groups are privately relaying concern that, in

addition to ZBC, the media environment will be far more restrictive

than for the March 29 election. One expert asserted that while

freedom of expression has always been limited in Zimbabwe, that now

there is effectively none. With rural areas under the thumb of

ruling party thugs, the ability of domestic journalists to garner

first hand sources has been severely affected. Details of the

re-accreditation process for journalists have yet to be announced by

ZANU-PF, but many expect the process, similar to the last election,

to be arduous. Previously journalists were required to be accredited

twice- by both the Ministry of Information and the Zimbabwe

Electoral Commission (ZEC), allowing for multiple roadblocks to

gaining permission to report. Only one journalist who received

accreditation by the Ministry was denied it by ZEC; however, NGOs

suspect this may become a more prevalent obstacle in the run-up to

the June 27 contest.

 

16. Although foreign correspondents are expected to attempt to both

officially and clandestinely return to Zimbabwe to cover the

elections, media freedom NGOs assert that the government is planning

to target and track local “fixers” used by foreigners to obtain

sources. According to the NGOs, by impeding the correspondents’

ability to gain information from fixers, the ZANU-PF hopes to

contain the amount of credible information that will reach

international media houses. To counter this and other ruling party

attempts to censor coverage, civil society organizations again plan

to operate a communications center open to all journalists covering

the election on June 27 in order to facilitate real-time information

sharing.

 

17. COMMENT. There was extensive coverage of the March 29 elections

both by accredited journalists and by international journalists who

clandestinely entered the country. This coverage certainly played

some role in the relative openness of the elections. Given ZANU-PF’s

intent to win the June 27 election at all costs, we expect to see

continued prosecution and persecution of journalists in Zimbabwe,

and efforts to prevent international journalists from coming to

Zimbabwe. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

HARARE 00000463 004 OF 004

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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