Chinamasa defends ZBC ban on MDC advertising


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Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa defended the move by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to deny advertising and news coverage to the Movement for Democratic Change saying the international coverage that the MDC received favoured the party.

The international media, he said, never reported on the position of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front.

The ZBC officially banned adverts from the MDC on 19 June 2008 but had denied the party advertising and news coverage since the 29 March elections which it won narrowly.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE526, ZIM NOTES June 20, 2008

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE526

2008-06-20 12:53

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3054

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1991

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2070

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2190

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0732

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1467

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1825

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2246

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4677

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1336

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000526

 

SIPDIS

 

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

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON EAGR EFIN EMIN ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES June 20, 2008

 

 

—————

1. SUMMARY

—————

 

Topics of the week:

 

– Harare Hit by Electoral Violence

– Ambassador Meets SADC Observer Leader

– Retaliation for Diplomats’ Visit

– MDC Secretary General Faces Treason Charges

– NGOs Still Suspended

– Hidden and Hungry at Harvest House

– Secretary Rice Talks Zim with UNSC

– Public Broadcaster Bans Opposition Ads

– Journalists Fear New Hit List

– Cargill Caught in Election Melee

– Sinking Dollar Makes Government Skittish

– Inflation Over Two Million Percent

– Growing Food Insecurity

– Misguided Policies Spawn Acute Bread Shortage

– Seed Co Finds Profit Outside Zimbabwe

– Quote of the Week

 

——————————————— ———

2. Price Movements-Exchange Rate and Selected products

——————————————— ———

 

Parallel rate for cash more than doubled again to Z$7.9 billion:US$1

against inter-bank average of Z$6.8 billion:US$1

 

Bank transfer rate trebled to Z$1.9 trillion:US$1; official rate:

Z$$30,000: US$1

 

Bread rose on the parallel market from Z$2.5 billion to Z$3.5

billion vs. controlled price of Z$400 million

 

Sugar soared to Z$8 billion/2kg vs. controlled price of Z$8

million/2kg

 

Cooking oil jumped to Z$7.5 billion/750ml vs. controlled price of

Z$9.3 million/750ml

 

Petrol and diesel more than doubled to Z$12 billion/liter vs.

controlled price of Z$60,000/liter

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

—————————–

 

3. Harare Hit by Electoral Violence… With reports of ZANU-PF-led

electoral violence escalating in Harare, on June 18 Ambassador McGee

and Emboffs toured the high-density area of Epworth and found the

MDC stronghold partially under the control of party thugs running

re-education bases. Embassy staff witnessed the brutality of a

ZANU-PF youth militia first-hand when hundreds of Epworth residents

fled a mob of young men, many in ZANU-PF t-shirts and all

brandishing sticks, tire irons, and axes, who chased women, children

and the elderly toward a ZANU-PF rally. See Harare 517, and, for a

clip of the recorded violence:

www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/06/19/

mabuse.zimbabwe.violence.cnn (NOTE: URL address divided for cable

formatting, be sure to include the entire address when copying.)

 

4. Ambassador Meets SADC Observer Leader… Ambassador McGee met

June 17 with Tanki Mothae, director of the SADC Organ on Politics,

Defense, and Security Affairs, and head of the SADC observers in

Zimbabwe. Mothae said there were currently close to 200 SADC

observers in Zimbabwe and a further 150 would arrive in the next

week. He said he was constantly receiving reports and attempting to

 

HARARE 00000526 002 OF 003

 

 

verify incidents of violence. See Harare 520.

 

5. Retaliation for Diplomats’ Visit… ZANU-PF MPs and thugs

continue to attack MDC supporters and their families in Bindura in

retaliation for a U.S. delegation visit on June 5. See Harare 515.

 

6. MDC Secretary General Faces Treason Charges… Tendai Biti

appeared in court twice this week following his arrest on June 12.

Biti is facing counts of treason, publishing documents prejudicial

to the State, causing disaffection within the police, and insulting

the President. The treason charge is based on a document dated

March 25 that is widely considered to be a forgery. The document

purports to lay out MDC plans for governing. Biti’s defense

attorneys complained that he had been denied access to food, water,

and his legal counsel for the first 48 hours of his imprisonment.

Also, he was forced to write statements during a 19-hour-long

overnight interrogation without the presence of his lawyer.

 

7. NGOs Still Suspended… On June 13 the GOZ “clarified” that

some NGOs, mainly those operating in health-services delivery, may

continue their work. The GOZ suspension of NGO-driven food aid

programs, however, remains in effect.

 

8. Hidden and Hungry at Harvest House… Two months into a

government-led campaign of violence, as many as 2,400 homeless and

hungry Zimbabweans, including at least 471 children, many of whom

are ill, continue to seek sanctuary at Harvest House, the opposition

MDC’s Harare headquarters. Embassy staff recently toured the site

and saw evidence that all of these opposition supporters and their

families fear for their lives if they return home, have no home to

return to, or both. In light of the NGO suspension, few resources

are reaching this vulnerable group. See Harare 522.

 

9. Secretary Rice Talks Zim with UNSC… On June 19, Secretary

Rice and Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibrill Bossole co-chaired

an informal meeting with members of the UN Security Council on

Zimbabwe. Rice stated that “by its actions the Mugabe regime has

given up any pretense that the June 27 election will be allowed to

proceed in a free and fair manner…We have reached the point where

broader, stronger international action is needed.” FM Bossole

called on regional stakeholders, including SADC members, to find a

solution to the crisis.

 

10. Public Broadcaster Bans Opposition Ads… ZBC (Zimbabwe

Broadcasting Corporation), which has denied the opposition political

advertising and news coverage since the March 29 elections,

confirmed the ban on June 19. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa

defended the move, saying that international coverage favored the

MDC and never reported the ruling party’s position.

 

11. Journalists Fear New Hit List… Journalists told our Public

Affairs Section that they had received information on the existence

of a “hit list” targeting independent media journalists. Frightened,

they have adopted new survival methods, including sleeping away from

home, to avert danger ahead of next week’s election.

 

12. Cargill Caught in Election Melee… Cargill MD Priscilla

Mutembwa told us that the company and its employees were particular

targets of harassment. Youth militia shut down a Cargill cotton

buying point in Mutoko in Mashonaland East province, decrying the

company for being U.S.-owned and beating Cargill employees there and

elsewhere for allegedly supporting the opposition. Complicating the

situation, an Indian-owned Singapore-based newcomer to Zimbabwe’s

cotton sector apparently is funding ZANU-PF in prime Cargill markets

and contributing to the violence. The ZANU-PF MP in Magunje

district in rural Mashonaland West announced, incorrectly, at a

large must-attend rally this week that Cargill was closing down,

moving out of the area, and that the Singapore-based company would

step into the void.

 

HARARE 00000526 003 OF 003

 

 

 

————————–

Economic and Business News

————————–

 

13. Sinking Dollar Makes Government Skittish… The Zimbabwe

dollar plummeted a further 57 percent against the greenback in the

past week, driven by high demand for forex and uncertainty

surrounding next week’s presidential runoff election. In an

indication of the government’s unease about the effect of the

precipitous fall in the value of the currency on soaring inflation,

the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) issued contradictory instructions

to banks on the exchange rate on June 18. It initially instructed

banks to abandon the willing buyer willing seller concept and revert

to the official exchange rate of Z$30,000:US$1, but within an hour

issued a retraction.

 

14. Inflation Over Two Million Percent… Another leading

supermarket chain has shared its internal inflation calculation with

us: it put the m-o-m rate of price increases in May at 563 percent

and the y-o-y rate slightly above 2 million percent.

 

15. Growing Food Insecurity… The FAO/World Food Program Crop and

Food Supply Assessment Mission concluded in its Special Report of

June 18, 2008 that the number of food insecure people in Zimbabwe

will rise from 2.04 million people in the next three months to about

5.1 million (well over half of most estimates of the population

size) at the height of the hungry season between January and March

2009. Production of the staple maize crop was 28 percent lower than

in 2007, which in turn was 44 percent lower than the previous year.

Communal farmers used to produce the bulk of the country’s maize,

but yields have fallen by about three quarters in the past ten years

due primarily to the loss of the symbiotic relationships with former

large-scale commercial agriculture and the demise of agro-input

industries. The 34-page report is available at

http://www.fao.org/giews/

 

16. Misguided Policies Spawn Acute Bread Shortage… Bread

shortages have reappeared as Zimbabwe’s wheat and flour stocks

collapse. Wheat production has been in decline for several years.

While farm takeovers and low prices explained much of the poor wheat

output in the early 2000s, in more recent years, shortages of fuel,

electricity, foreign exchange and fertilizer have predominated.

Zimbabwe has relied on imports to fill the gap, but due to foreign

exchange shortages they have not met the growing demand for bread.

Nevertheless, because affordable substitutes are still available

along with the staple maize meal, we don’t foresee the shortage

sparking “bread riots.”

 

17. Seed Co Finds Profit Outside Zimbabwe… Citing low

government-controlled prices to producers, Seed Co Limited CEO Pat

Devenish estimated that hybrid maize seed production in Zimbabwe’s

2008/09 growing season could be 30 percent below last year’s crop.

Having ring fenced domestic operations and expanded in the region,

Seed Co reported that 91 percent of the past year’s turnover had

come from outside Zimbabwe, and sales had tripled in U.S. dollar

terms.

 

18. Quote of the Week: Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Rural

Housing and heir apparent to Mugabe, was reported in the press

saying that Morgan Tsvangirai “likes being arrested” because of the

international attention his arrests draw.

 

MCGEE

 

(16 VIEWS)

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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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