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How the Zimbabwe media viewed Bush’s visit to Africa

United States President George Bush’s visit to Africa in 2003 was viewed as an African safari with a regime change agenda in mind, namely mobilising African leaders to isolate Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

“American President George W. Bush’s visit to Africa next week, during which he will arm-twist Zimbabwe’s neighbours to support a hostile Western campaign against the country, will fail dismally and also prove that the MDC leaders who are jostling to meet with him are puppets of imperialism,” the Bulawayo weekly, Sunday News said.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1371, MEDIA COVERAGE PRESIDENT BUSH’S VISIT TO AFRICA;

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1371

2003-07-08 09:40

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.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001371

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: MEDIA COVERAGE PRESIDENT BUSH’S VISIT TO AFRICA;

HARARE

 

1.   An avalanche of news articles and opinion pieces

focusing on the decisive African Nations Cup

qualifying soccer match between Zimbabwe and

Eritrea, especially in the government-controlled

print and electronic media, failed to eclipse

critical articles against President George W. Bush’s

visit to Africa. In a move described by political

analysts as “a deliberate ploy” to deflect and drown

out public attention from President Bush’s imminent

visit to Africa, the government-controlled media

deliberately down-played politics from the usual

pole position to promote the “crucial game.” Even

the ZANU PF’s important politburo meeting last

Wednesday, including the subsequent 54th Session of

the party’s Central Committee meeting addressed by

Robert Mugabe the following day, played second

fiddle to news on the soccer match. It was

uncharacteristic of the state-run ZTV to tuck

Mugabe’s news clip – in which he urged the party’s

Central Committee members not to be cowed by Bush’s

visit – deep into Thursday’s (July 3) “Newshour”

bulletin at 2000 hours. Excerpts of the of the nit-

picking news articles, op-ed and opinion pieces

against President Bush’s visit that appeared mostly

in the government-controlled and pro-government

mainstream newspapers between July 4 and 7 follow:

 

2.   Under headline “Bush’s visit threatens peace” the

government-controlled daily “The Herald” (07/07)

reproduced the following article by Patrica Gwen

Afwoni, Africa Strategy Personal Assistant, African

Region, on page 7:

 

“Africa Strategy notes with sadness and shame the

degree of hypocrisy in which the current Right wing

Republican Administration of George Bush has

conducted its foreign policy on Africa. The forth

coming African tour of Bush. . .is designed to

threaten the peace and widen the gaps between

moderate states and war mongers in Africa. . .The

spirit of Abraham Lincoln will roll in the grave

when they hear that President Bush has visited a

pseudo democracy in Uganda and spent over six hours

dining and dancing with the military dictatorship

that has refused people to associate and assemble

freely. . .We note with great concern the way

millions and millions of U. S. dollars are being

channeled through Uganda to train and pay mercenary

armies to overthrow the government of President

Mugabe. We are also worried about the Millions of

USD that has been pumped into the hands of

opposition in Zimbabwe for ECOMIC SABOTAGE (sic). .

.Africa Strategy wishes to use this opportunity to

warn all those who are bent on paying the government

of Uganda to commit violence in the region like. .

.the black surrogate Colin Powell that all the

peaceful people of the region are documenting all

your encounters. We have now obtained clear

evidence from sources about all your financial

transactions which point at USA and Britain as the

main countries fuelling violence in Zimbabwe. . .We

are aware of the impending fabrication and malice

that Colin Powell and Bush want to link the people

of Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes Region so as to

justify regime change. . . .”

 

3.   The July 6 edition of the independent weekly “The

Daily News on Sunday” printed an article by Agence France-

Presse (AFP) on page one that reported on President Bush’s

interview centering on his imminent visit to Africa with

the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

television. The “Sunday Special” story ran under the

headline “Bush calls for fresh Zimbabwe elections.”

Another independent weekly “the Standard” (07/06) also

carried an article focusing on President Bush’s visit to

Africa on page one under headline “MDC to meet Bush over

Mugabe.”

 

4.   Under headline “Bush’s Africa safari” the

pro-government weekly “The Sunday Mirror” (07/06)

carried the following opinion piece under the ghost

column “The Scrutator” on page 10:

 

“. . .Despite assertions to the contrary, many of

those (countries) left out of yet another sweeping

but selective tour by the leader of the world’s sole

super power are quietly lamenting and, in some cases

fearing, the possible implications of such

exclusions and oversight. . . So serious is the U.

S. A. about our continent that it has consistently

demonstrated a disdain for both the Organization of

African Unity which neither (Jimmy) Carter nor

(Bill) Clinton visited on the occasion of their

respective safaris, and the African Union which, if

the U. S. administration had a more defined and

sensitive policy in this regard, Bush could have

accommodated in his schedule, especially since the

AU Summit is meeting in Maputo next Friday. .

.Indeed, the U. S. Africa policy is so largely

immersed in strategic and economic considerations

that the issue of democracy has always been quite

secondary. Even the outpourings on Zimbabwe are

only part of that `democracy’ smokescreen. Not

surprisingly, therefore, Zimbabwe will not loom

large nor should the MDC expect anything more than a

reaffirmation of the `African initiative,’

spearheaded by South Africa, another long-standing

`sub-center’ in the superpower’s imperialist sphere

of influence.”

 

5.   The same newspaper also ran an interesting article by

Tendai Chari” under his weekly column “Media Analysis” on

page 11 – under headline “How about a regime change in the

media?” Excerpts:

 

“When U. S. A. President George Bush visits Southern

Africa. . .he should bring with him, among other

rescue packages, a rescue package for the Zimbabwean

media? He must also facilitate a regime change in

our media. The men and women of the pen have become

the property and monopoly of political parties. .

.Having earned himself the much-fancied title of

`liberator’ in Iraq I expect President Bush to

liberate our media from the bondage pf cronyism. He

must extricate these embeds from the clutches of

politicians holding on to them with crab-like

tenacity. We need a free media. . . .”

 

6.   Under headline “Why Bush is coming to Africa: U. S.

leader in bid to spread his imperialist wings” the July 6

edition of the government-controlled weekly “The Sunday

Mail” carried the following opinion piece by Munyaradzi

Huni, Political Editor, on page 9:

 

“So the African Union (AU) summit will be held in

Maputo, Mozambique, this week, while the Texan

gunslinger, Mr. George W. Bush, will at the same

time be roaming around Africa for the time since he

`stole’ the American election from Mr. Al Gore. . .?

But then don’t be fooled that it’s by mere

coincidence that the cunning fox decided to visit

this beloved continent at the time when the AU will

be taking place. No! . . .And by the way, don’t be

fooled into thinking that Mr. Bush just woke up one

day and decided to visit South Africa, Botswana,

Uganda, Nigeria and Senegal. . .Mr. Bush is already

dangling the carrot in billions of American dollars

to buy out the African leaders so that they can

allow him to spread his stinking imperialistic

wings. . . .”

 

7.   Under headline “African leaders must rally behind

Zimbabwe” the same newspaper carried the following

opinion piece by South African-based independent

political and socio-economic analyst and media

columnist Udo W. Froese on page 10:

 

“It is clear that the mighty West. . .particularly

Washington. . .will use Africa’s own program, NEPAD,

to discipline this continent and do the dirty work

for and on behalf of the hopeful sponsors, the G-8

members. African countries and their leadership

will have to toe the line of the new world economic

order and globalization, or face the music.

However, both Western programs are to Africa’s

peril. . .Any attempt to destabilize Zimbabwe

further would gave serious regional security

implications. It would enhance wide racism and

instability. As is it is, Zimbabwe is at war. It

would be a political and economic disaster for the

Southern African development Community (SADC) to

launch a military operation from neighboring

Botswana and Uganda in order to force a `fast regime

change’ in Zimbabwe. As much as U. S. President

George Bush wants to reward Britain’s Tony Blair for

his zealous support in Afghanistan and Iraq and the

rest of the world by returning Zimbabwe to the

British crown, such brutal action would create

chaos, and terrorism would take advantage. If

President Mugabe’s government would be destroyed,

thousands of highly trained ZANU PF guerillas would

retreat to the bush in order to again pick up the

war for their country. . .This would cause havoc in

the region. . .When America’s President George W.

Bush visits Africa this week, Africans have no

alternative but to demonstrate that they are

unanimous in their decision to counter any

destabilization efforts in their regions. Africa

would do well rallying behind Zimbabwe. . . .”

 

8.   Under headline “Bush’s Africa tour bound to fail –

analysts” the Bulawayo-based government-controlled

weekly “Sunday News” (07/06) carried the following

article by Herbert Zharare, Chief Reporter, on page

3:

 

“American President George W. Bush’s visit to Africa

next week, during which he will arm-twist Zimbabwe’s

neighbors to support a hostile Western campaign

against the country, will fail dismally and also

prove that the MDC leaders who are jostling to meet

with him are puppets of imperialism, analysts have

said. . .Political observers argued this week that

there is no doubt that Mr. Bush will dangle several

incentives to African countries, in a desperate bid

to force them to support his agenda of toppling the

elected government of Zimbabwe. . .Dr. (Tafataona)

Mahoso said African countries that allowed

themselves to be used by Mr. Bush to topple

President Mugabe were going to be haunted by the

aftermath of such an expedition.. . .Dr. William

Nhara, the head of a Harare-based regional political

think-tank, the Southern Africa Institute for

Democracy, told `Sunday News’. . .that the U. S.

President can go ahead with is visit to selected

African countries, but will achieve nothing. .

.Bulawayo-based political and social commentator Dr.

Lawton Hikwa concurred with Dr. Mahoso and Mr. Nhara

that Mr. Bush’s visit. . .was part of the Western

campaign to effect so-called regime change in

Zimbabwe. . . .”

 

9.   Under headline “‘Bush’s visit not critical’: Africa

should not be intimidated, says President” the lead

story in the July 4 edition of the

government-controlled daily “The Herald” reads:

 

“Africa should not be intimidated when the U. S.

President George Bush visits the

continent. . .President Mugabe said (July 3). `When

Bush visits here, it should not send tremors to your

nerves,’ he said while addressing the 54th Ordinary

Session of the ZANU PF Central Committee. `He is

coming to visit and he would not dare to try what he

did to Iraq. He knows the situation is different.

After all we do not have oil,’ he said. . .Of late,

the U. S. ha renewed its onslaught against Zimbabwe

with President Bush, Secretary of State Mr. Colin

Powell and Assistant Secretary of State for African

Affairs Mr. Walter Kansteiner calling for President

Mugabe’s exit from power. `We know that the Bush

administration and the Blair government are against

this country and its leadership. . .But their

conspiracies should never be allowed to succeed and

we are glad that Africans oppose that . . . .'”

 

10. While the rest of the government-controlled and

independent print media carried wire articles by

U. S.-based news agencies on President Bush’s

remarks at the recent biennial meeting of the

Corporate Council on Africa, the July 3 edition of

the pro-government weekly “Business Tribune”

reproduced the full text of his speech on page 12,

under headline “Bush sets agenda for Africa tour:

Remarks by U. S. President to the Corporate Council

on U. S. (sic) – Africa Business Summit.”

 

SULLIVAN

 

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