Media reaction to George Bush’s visit to Africa


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The reporting of United States President George Bush’s visit to Africa reflected the political divide in the local media with The Herald trashing the visit because Bush was coming to Africa “with dirty hands after his alleged bungling in Iraq”.

The Standard commented: “Whether President Mugabe and ZANU PF choose to dismiss the visit as a non-event or not, the point must be forcefully made that each of the countries to be visited is moving ahead while Zimbabwe is definitely retreating back to Stone Age.”

The Sunday Mirror wrote: “We reiterate our position that U. S. President, George W. Bush’s visit to the southern African region this week will not have any impact on Zimbabwe. For those hoping that Bush will effect a regime change in Zimbabwe. We urge them to study that prospect more realistically and not be blinded by the euphoria of expectations that has clouded sound vision among their ranks.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1370, MEDIA REACTION PRESIDENT BUSH’S VISIT TO AFRICA;

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1370

2003-07-08 09:38

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 001370

 

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 REACTION PRESIDENT BUSH’S VISIT TO AFRICA;

HARARE

 

 

1.   President George W. Bush’s visit to Africa remains the

top issue for discussion in lengthy editorials being

carried in the mainstream newspapers ahead of the July 7 –

12 visit. Excerpts follow:

 

2.   Under headline “Bush must respect African leadership”

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

comments:

 

“American leader Mr. George W. Bush begins his first

visit to Africa. . .with very dirty hands after his

alleged bungling in Iraq. American and British

troops stand accused of slaughtering thousands of

unarmed civilians including women and children

during the U. S.-led invasion of Iraq. . .Mr. Bush

will be hoping to make the whole world believe that

America cares about Africa despite ample evidence to

the contrary. . .Whatever his real motive for coming

to Africa, Mr. Bush had better not dictate things to

anyone, lest, as President Mugabe warned over the

weekend, he be spurned. . .While we know that no

African leader worth his salt and who really knows

America will accept to be used by the likes of Mr.

Bush, we think an opportunity has arisen for the

Texan to experience first-hand the rock-solid unity

prevalent in Africa.. . . .”

 

3.   Under headline “Bush visit: What’s in it for Zimbabwe”

the independent weekly “The Standard” (07/06), comments:

 

“. . .Whether President Mugabe and ZANU PF choose to

dismiss the visit as a non-event or not, the point

must be forcefully made that each of the countries

to be visited is moving ahead while Zimbabwe is

definitely retreating back to Stone Age. This is

the reality which is staring us in the face. .

.Describing Colin Powell as a `disgraceful Uncle

Tom’ and other such vitriol might be what Jonathan

Moyo (Information Minister) believes he is paid for,

but it certainly will not bring food on the tables

of long suffering Zimbabweans. It was, in terms of

foreign relations, an extraordinary inept thing to

say even for a government not known for its delicacy

of diplomacy. If these crude and undignified

attacks on President Bush and U. S. Secretary of

State Colin Powell were being made from a position

of strength, perhaps we would be more guarded in our

criticism. . .This paper emphatically agrees with

Colin Powell. . .However, by the same token, we

share the view that the U. S. should not adopt the

role of a world policeman advocating a regime

change. Rather it should concentrate its energies

on helping the people of Zimbabwe and African

leaders resolve a specific political problem such as

the one in this country. Yes, the United States

might be the leader of the free world, is a great

democracy, a military super power and a nation

unequalled in material wealth. But all that does

not give it the right to act as a world policeman

and calling for regime changes wherever there is a

problem. Our advice to the U. S. is that acting in

this high handed manner can only alienate people and

needlessly lose the goodwill of its friends in

Africa. Powell’s dramatic language ran the risk of

being interpreted as war-mongering and parallels

being drawn with the Iraq war. . .The U. S.

administration’s criticism of the Mugabe regime is

very valid. . .But in his meeting with Presidents

Mbeki and Obasanjo, President Bush is advised not to

display a one-eyed view of the continent. While

making his analysis of the Zimbabwe crisis clear, he

must also be prepared to listen carefully to what

the African leaders will have to say and move in

tandem with them for the resolution of the

Zimbabwean crisis. . . .”

 

4.   Under headline “Bush visit no panacea to our problems”

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

comments:

 

“We reiterate our position that U. S. President,

George W. Bush’s visit to the southern African

region this week will not have any impact on

Zimbabwe. . .For those hoping that Bush will effect

a regime change in Zimbabwe. . .we urge them to

study that prospect more realistically and not be

blinded by the euphoria of expectations that has

clouded sound vision among their ranks. . .It is not

important for us to point out that Liberia presents

the most nagging challenge for the Americans at the

moment and that if any imminent action is demanded

of the U. S. right now, it is on that beleaguered

West African state. . .On the resolution of

Zimbabwe’s political impasse and its attendant

economic woes, the process initiated by the African

troika still presents itself as the only legitimate

`road map. . .’ Our message to those who have

burdened Bush’s imminent visit with their misplaced

expectations, therefore, is that they should look

inwards for a resolution to the country’s problems.

The sooner this is done, the quicker our problems

are sorted out – by ourselves. . . .”

 

5.   Under headline “Warning to MDC surrogates” the

government-controlled Bulawayo-based daily

“Chronicle” (07/05), comments:

 

“The U. S. and Britain. . .are driving terror into

many nations in the name of fighting terrorism. . .Of

late they have been threatening to include what they

call regime change on a number of countries, including

Zimbabwe, viewed as not towing the line. . .Bush and

his Secretary for State, Collin (sic) Powell have in

recent weeks stepped up their vilification of

President Mugabe and publicly called for his ouster

from power. . .President Mugabe on Thursday told the

54th Ordinary Session of the ruling ZANU PF Central

Committee that Africans should not be intimidated by

Bush’s visit. `He is coming to visit and he should

not dare to try what he did to Iraq. He knows the

situation is different. After all we do not have oil

here,’ said an unperturbed President Mugabe. While

welcoming . . .Mugabe’s words of courage, it is

disheartening that there are some sellouts among us,

especially within the opposition MDC who appear

determined to team up with foreigners like Bush to

destabilize the country. . .This business of teaming

up with foreigners against your brother is un-African

. . .As South African President Thabo Mbeki said

recently, the problems affecting Zimbabwe can be

solved by Zimbabweans. Neighbors and the

international community can only assist. We urge MDC

and British and American masters to take President

Mbeki’s advice very seriously to avoid embarrassing

themselves. . . .”

 

6.   Under headline “The root of misrule in Zimbabwe” the

independent weekly “Zimbabwe Independent” (07/04)

comments:

 

“. . .U. S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s

comparison of Zimbabwe’s regime with that of

Burma’s, where state violence against a popular

opposition has ensured for that country the

reputation of a rogue state, appears to have stung

members of Mugabe’s inner circle. And so it should.

Zimbabwe’s international standing has been

prejudiced by ongoing state-sponsored terror and

impunity for those who have assaulted, tortured and

killed members of the opposition. Zimbabwe’s rulers

are getting the reputation they deserve. . . .”

 

7.   Under headline ” Bush must tread softly in Africa” the

pro-government weekly “Business Tribune” (07/03) comments:

 

“Threats coming from the U. S. that American

President George Bush would `lean hard’ on South

African President Thabo Mbeki to change his policy

on Zimbabwe show that the American administration

overestimates the power Mbeki wields over his

Zimbabwean counterpart. Also, it shows that

America’s view of the Zimbabwean problem is overly

simplistic. Mbeki. . .long realized that the

Zimbabwean problem can only be solved by Zimbabweans

themselves without undue influence from interested

parties such as Britain and America. . .In a way

Bush’s expected posturing in South Africa next week

might reverse the little gains achieved so far.

Bush’s African tour must be seen in the bigger

picture of his attempt to cow the African continent

into submitting to American dominance of world

trade. In his remarks to the Corporate Council on

Africa’s U. S.-Africa Business Summit. . .Bush

betrayed the true purpose of his tour, namely that

it was more about American interests than anything

else. . . By `leaning hard’ on Mbeki next week

Bush’s intention is simply to add him to the list of

submissive African heads of state prepared to

mortgage their countries’ sovereignty to American

imperialism. Bush should tread softly on his path

in Africa.”

 

SULLIVAN

(10 VIEWS)

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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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