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Herald ignores top US official’s visit to Zimbabwe

The Herald completely ignored a three-day visit to Zimbabwe by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner, reporting only on the donation he made to local HIV/AIDS organisations without mentioning his presence, but the private media gave him favourable coverage.

The private media was helped by “assistance” from the United States embassy in Pretoria and press releases prepared in Harare.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 01HARARE3724, ZIMBABWEAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF A/S KANSTEINER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE3724

2001-12-14 08:21

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

140821Z Dec 01

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED     PTO0442

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 03724 140918Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   EVG-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00   USNW-00

DODE-00 DOTE-00 DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 UTED-00 VC-00

TEDE-00 INR-00   LAB-01   VCE-00   NSAE-00 TEST-00 USIE-00

DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00 SAS-00     /003W

——————4B695B 140918Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0542

UNCLAS HARARE 003724

 

SIPDIS

 

INFO INFO AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

 

DEPT FOR AF, AF/S (DELISI, KRAFT), AF/RA (SWANN), AF/PD

(COX, ROBERTSON)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KPAO PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF A/S KANSTEINER

VISIT

 

 

1.   SUMMARY: ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER’S DECEMBER

8-11 VISIT TO ZIMBABWE GENERATED COVERAGE IN BOTH PRINT

AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA. REPORTS IN PRIVATELY OWNED PRINT

MEDIA WERE FACTUAL. THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE

BROADCASTING CORPORATION DISTORTED ITS COVERAGE TO GIVE

THE IMPRESSION THAT THE UNITED STATES IS ATTEMPTING TO

BULLY ZIMBABWE. GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED PRINT MEDIA

IGNORED KANSTEINER’S VISIT. ASSISTANCE FROM EMBASSY

PRETORIA HELPED GET FACTUAL RADIO AND TV COVERAGE OF

KANSTEINER’S STATEMENTS TO INFLUENTIAL ZIMBABWEAN

AUDIENCES. END SUMMARY.

 

2.   ON DECEMBER 12, THE INDEPENDENT “DAILY NEWS”

PUBLISHED A STRAIGHT ACCOUNT OF A/S KANSTEINER’S

DECEMBER 11 PRESS CONFERENCE IN HARARE. UNDER THE

HEADLINE “US ENVOY ENCOURAGES ZIMBABWE TO STEER TOWARD

DEMOCRACY” THE PAPER’S POLITICAL EDITOR OFFERED AN

ACCURATE REPORT ON THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PRESS

CONFERENCE AND DETAILS OF KANSTEINER’S VISIT TO

ZIMBABWE. INDEPENDENT WEEKLY “THE FINANCIAL GAZETTE”

ALSO PUBLISHED A COMPLETE AND FACTUAL ACCOUNT OF

KANSTEINER’S PRESS CONFERENCE UNDER THE HEADLINE “US

OFFICIAL LAMBASTS (SIC) GOVERNMENT OVER RULE OF LAW.”

SUBHEAD READ: “A SENIOR US OFFICIAL SAID THIS WEEK THE

RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF ZIMBABWEANS WERE UNDER THREAT,

BUT THERE IS STILL TIME FOR PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE’S

GOVERNMENT TO STEER THE COUNTRY TOWARD FREE AND FAIR

ELECTIONS NEXT YEAR.” THE “FINANCIAL GAZETTE” ALSO

PUBLISHED A FAVORABLE STORY ON US POLICY TOWARD

ZIMBABWE. THAT ARTICLE WAS BASED ON AN EMBASSY PRESS

RELEASE ABOUT ZDERA, DISTRIBUTED AT THE KANSTEINER

PRESS CONFERENCE AND TO A BROAD GROUP OF INFLUENTIAL

ZIMBABWEANS. COPIES OF THE “DAILY NEWS” AND “FINANCIAL

GAZETTE” ARTICLES HAVE BEEN FAXED TO AF/S AND AF/PD.

 

3.   GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING

CORPORATION (ZBC) TV AND RADIO COVERAGE OF THE PRESS

CONFERENCE WAS BLATANTLY DISTORTED AND HEAVILY

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 03724 140918Z

POLITICIZED. IN ITS SEPTEMBER 11 PRIME-TIME NEWS

PROGRAM, ZBC TV REPORTED THAT KANSTEINER HAD CALLED FOR

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PARLIAMENTARY

FORUM OBSERVATION OF ZIMBABWE’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

THE REPORTER SAID THAT THIS WAS “IN COMPLETE VIOLATION

OF ZIMBABWE’S CONSTITUTION.” THE REPORT WAS FALSE, AS

KANSTEINER MADE NO MENTION OF SADC OBSERVATION OF

ZIMBABWEAN ELECTIONS. HE DID SUGGEST THAT SADC

PARLIAMENTARY FORUM NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR ELECTIONS

WOULD PROVIDE A GOOD BENCHMARK FOR EVALUATING THE

FAIRNESS OF ZIMBABWE’S ELECTIONS, BUT THE ZBC SEEMS TO

HAVE MISSED THE POINT. NONE OF THE OTHER 17 NEWS

ORGANIZATIONS AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE MISUNDERSTOOD

KANSTEINER’S STATEMENTS. THE EMBASSY RESPONDED

IMMEDIATELY TO THIS DISTORTION WITH A PRESS RELEASE

CORRECTING THE ZBC’S REPORT. ZBC TV AND RADIO COVERAGE

OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ALSO INCLUDED HEAVY

EDITORIALIZING, CLAIMING THAT U.S. POLICY TOWARD

ZIMBABWE WAS “ILLEGAL,” THAT ZDERA WOULD HURT THE

COMMON CITIZEN, AND THAT AMERICAN CRITICISM OF ZIMBABWE

WAS DUE TO OPPOSITION TO LAND REFORM.

 

4.   GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEWSPAPERS FAILED TO REPORT ON

THE KANSTEINER VISIT. A/S KANSTEINER CEREMONIALLY

DELIVERED USG DONATIONS TO LOCAL HIV/AIDS

ORGANIZATIONS, BUT THE “HERALD” REPORT ON THE DONATION

SOMEHOW OMITTED MENTION OF HIS PRESENCE AT THE

CEREMONY.

 

5.   A/S KANSTEINER ALSO GAVE INTERVIEWS TO THE BBC, E-

TV AND THE SABC DURING HIS VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA.

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 03724 140918Z

THESE BROADCASTS REACHED ZIMBABWEAN ELITE THROUGH

SATELLITE TELEVISION AND SHORT-WAVE RADIO, AND HELPED

GIVE OPINION

 

(11 VIEWS)

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