There was a “new and more dangerous” attack on the press in April 2004 with the state-owned Herald declaring that it was now “time to deal with traitors”.
Under pressure was the state news agency Ziana with one of the editors John Chimunhu being forced to resign.
Also under pressure was ZANU-PF legislator Kindness Paradza who owned The Tribune. Mashonaland West chairman Phillip Chiyangwa suspended Paradza from carrying out any party work in his Makonde constituency pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.
Paradza was accused of insubordination, gross indiscipline and fanning disunity among cadres in the district and province
Viewing cable 04HARARE726, PRESS UNDER FIRE AGAIN IN ZIMBABWE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000726
DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, BARNES AND SIMS
NSC FOR TEITLEBAUM
AF FOR RAYNOR
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: PRESS UNDER FIRE AGAIN IN ZIMBABWE
¶1. We have recently noticed a new and more dangerous
attack on the press in Zimbabwe. On Monday April 26, 2004
an editorial entitled “Time to deal with traitors” appeared
in the government owned newspaper “The Herald.” The
editorial was at best threatening and at worst a call for
hate crimes. One quote was “.we call upon the Government of
Zimbabwe to explore ways of dealing with Zimbabweans who are
giving aid to the enemies of the country by deliberately
portraying it in a bad light.Surely our legal experts can
pore through the law books to establish whether or not these
people are not in breach of the law.elsewhere people have
been tried and convicted in absentia for various crimes
¶2. Several other events have taken place this week as
well. John Chimunhu, an editor at New Ziana, the state run
news service has resigned under pressure. Journalists at
New Ziana have been grilled by the Central Intelligence
Organization (CIO) and all were ordered to sign a paper
indicating that they were members of the ZANU-PF party.
They were also ordered not to cover the doings of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Due to
this, Mr Chimunhu has resigned his job.
¶3. Another example has to do with the publisher of “The
Tribune”, a paper that has recently been showing a new
independent style. Kindness Paradza, ZANU PF legislator and
the new publisher of the semi-independent weekly “The
Tribune,” has been suspended from carrying out party work in
his Makonde constituency. His dismissal comes barely two
months after taking over and transforming the “The Tribune”
into a lively and independent newspaper.
¶4. ZANU PF’s Mashonaland West provincial executive,
chaired by Robert Mugabe’s nephew Phillip Chiyangwa, issued
Paradza with a prohibition order last Tuesday (April 26)
suspending him from performing his duties until the outcome
of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for May 27, 2004.
Paradza, who has been in Parliament for less than a year, is
being accused of “insubordination, gross indiscipline and
fanning disunity among cadres in the district and province.”
Paradza, who is currently in Luton, United Kingdom, visiting
his wife, has dismissed the suspension as “a non-event.”
¶5. Investigations into Paradza’s conduct arose following
an adverse report in the April 25 edition of the government
controlled weekly “The Sunday Mail.” The paper accused
Paradza of traveling to the United Kingdom on April 23 in
order “to meet some officials of a British organization
ready to fund his take over bid.” Paradza added fuel to the
fire when he criticized the country’s media laws, the
Broadcasting Services Act and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, in his maiden speech in
Parliament. He stated that the laws were “too restrictive
and discouraged potential local investment in the media.”
Paradza is also being accused of seeking help from the
Directors of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ),
publishers of the banned independent daily “The Daily News”.
An editorial carried in the April 16, 2004 edition of “The
Tribune” where the paper is alleged to have “clearly
bemoaned the demise of The Daily News.” Was cited as a
problem. Surprisingly, the editorial in question did not
comment on the closure of the Daily News at all. Under
headline “Zimbabweans need new political outlook,” the
editorial reviewed Zimbabwe’s 24 years of independence.
¶6. With elections looming in March 2005, it is clear that
the Government of Zimbabwe is leaving nothing to chance and
will mount a strong campaign to control all of the written
as well as the electronic media.