Editors fall for Studio 7

Editors of Zimbabwe’s privately owned newspapers fell “hook, line and sinker” for the Voice of America’s Studio 7 which Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had said faced death.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks Financial Gazette editor-in-chief Sunsleey Chamunorwa and Standard editor Bornwell Chakaodza both welcomed a proposal by VOA’s programme manager for Africa Negussie Mengesha to introduce an editor’s forum programme on the station.

“Chakaodza even volunteered to be on the panel without any hesitation. All editors gave kudos to Studio 7 and encouraged the station to continue striving for excellence and balanced reporting, adding, they are prepared to carry Studio 7 adverts in their newspapers,” the cable says.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE2170, VOA'S STUDIO 7 MAKING WAVES IN ZIMBABWE; HARARE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2170

2003-10-31 09:50

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 02 HARARE 002170

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS

AF FOR RAYNOR

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

VOA/IBB FOR OGULNIK, STEWART, MENGESHA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: VOA'S STUDIO 7 MAKING WAVES IN ZIMBABWE; HARARE

 

1.   At first glance, Negussie Mengesha's - VOA Program

Manager, Africa Division - visit to Zimbabwe seemed

difficult, if not impossible. What stood in his way was

the hardnosed anti-VOA Studio 7 rhetoric by the government

of Zimbabwe's spokesman, Information Minister Jonathan

Moyo. "Studio 7 will die. It faces death. They think we

are sleeping, we want to see where they are going with

Studio 7," Moyo was quoted as saying recently in the local

press. With statements like this, it appears to be yet

another hurdle to be jumped, another myth to be conquered.

However, unlike the proverbial angry child who runs away

from the demands of home, burning bridges and scattering

ashes in its wake, Mengesha flew into Zimbabwe on October

19, only to be welcomed by Nathan Shamuyarira, ZANU PF

Secretary for Information and Publicity, and saluted by the

leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

(MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai, before hobnobbing with Zimbabwe's

most polished journalists, media watchdogs and recording

companies.

 

2.   To his surprise and eventual pleasure, notwithstanding

the sad arrest of Studio 7 stringer Moreblessing Zulu

(later released without charge), Mengesha was drenched with

positive feedback about the "very informative station."

Much like the slow but persistent tortoise that eventually

outran the swifter hare in the ancient African fable,

Studio 7 - after a few uncomfortable broadcasts - has

inched steadily ahead after hitting the airwaves in

Zimbabwe eight months ago. He was informed of modest gains

in the number of listeners in both rural and urban

settings, especially after the closure of Zimbabwe's only

independent daily newspaper "The Daily News" by the

government of Zimbabwe on September 12, 2003 following a

Supreme Court declaration that the paper was operating

outside the law. The ever-increasing cover cost of

mainstream newspapers is also driving bountiful news

consumers to listen to Studio 7's "timely, accurate. and

balanced" news programs.

 

3.   Mr. Mengesha paid a courtesy call on Mr. Sunsleey

Chamunorwa, Editor-in-Chief of the independent

weekly "The Financial Gazette." Mr. Chamunorwa fell

hook, line and sinker over a proposal by Mr.

Mengesha to introduce an Editor's Forum program when

the station starts airing programs seven days a

week. Mr. Bornwell Chakaodza, Editor of the

independent weekly "The Standard", also backed the

idea.   Chakaodza even volunteered to be on the

panel without any hesitation. All editors gave

kudos to Studio 7 and encouraged the station to

continue striving for excellence and balanced

reporting, adding, they are prepared to carry Studio

7 adverts in their newspapers. Mengesha also

touched base with officials from the Zimbabwe

Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa

(MISA) during a luncheon arranged at USAID. He also

met with the editorial team of the Media Monitoring

Project at the same venue. Issues discussed during

these meetings covered the welfare of journalists in

Zimbabwe, press freedom, and how the controversial

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act

(AIPPA) is affecting journalists, especially those

working for the independent press or foreign media.

With the Studio 7 music library in mind, Mr.

Mengesha also visited two recording companies in

Harare - Zimbabwe Music Corporation and Ngaavongwe

Records. The two recording companies expressed

interest in providing Studio 7 with the latest

information on the top selling local albums and

songs.

 

4.   The meeting with opposition Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was a

brilliant eye opener. According to Mr. Tsvangirai,

people in outlying areas are surprisingly listening

to Studio 7. "One old man at one of my rallies in a

remote part of Zimbabwe boldly asked me to grant

more interviews to Studio 7," he disclosed to Mr.

Mengesha. Mr. Tsvangirai took his hat off to Studio

7 "for its Herculean, successful efforts to spread

the news about Zimbabwe, from Zimbabwe, by

Zimbabweans to fellow Zimbabweans."

 

5.   You don't need an overload of cash to get an overload

of performance from stringers. The VOA training program

for the stringers in Johannesburg, South Africa and the

visit to the "war zone" by "General" Negussie Mengesha,

encouraged and overjoyed the stringers. In the true spirit

of a Marvin Gaye song - Brother, brother, brother. . .You

know we've got to find a way to bring some loving here. .

.What's going on? - Zimbabweans know that truth is going

on, on Studio 7. And hope. And a balanced source of news

that gives listeners a front row seat on events happening

in Zimbabwe.

 

6.   So, congratulations and please keep on keeping on.

Because without an objective alternative voice,

Zimbabweans will cease to be informed, especially in

an environment where state-controlled media has a

print and electronic monopoly. Keep it going for

Zimbos!

 

SULLIVAN

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