How Jonathan Moyo started muzzling the press

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was slowly muzzling the press but his approach was quite sophisticated and could in the long run be more effective than simply destroying the printing presses of the Daily News.

This was the opinion of United States embassy officials after the presses of the Daily News were bombed.

A cable released by Wikileaks said Moyo was also implementing selective accreditation of journalists, charging exorbitant fees for accrediting foreign journalists and denying access to information to the independent media.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE741, GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE741

2001-02-13 14:00

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

 

131400Z Feb 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0502

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00741 01 OF 02 131359Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 DODE-00

DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00   H-01

TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01

NSAE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00

ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 BBG-00

R-00     PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00

SAS-00   SWCI-00   /010W

------------------C50DEC 131438Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8220

INFO NSC WASHDC

AMEMBASSY LONDON

AMEMBASSY PARIS

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000741

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S, AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS)

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR WILLIAMS

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00741 01 OF 02 131359Z

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/11

TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON

THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR

REASONS 1.5 B/D.

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE'S ASSAULT

ON THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA HAS NOT ABATED IN THE WAKE OF

THE BOMBING OF THE "DAILY NEWS." THE CURRENT ATTACK

ON PRESS FREEDOM IS, HOWEVER, MORE SOPHISTICATED AND

MAY IN THE LONG RUN BE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THE

DESTRUCTION OF THE "DAILY NEWS" PRINTING PRESSES. THE

METHODOLOGY INCLUDES SELECTIVE ACCREDITATION OF

JOURNALISTS, EXORBITANT FEES FOR CREDENTIALING FOREIGN

PRESS, DENYING ACCESS AND INFORMATION TO THE

INDEPENDENT MEDIA, AND LOOMING RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN

OWNERSHIP OR SUPPORT TO INDEPENDENT MEDIA. THE GOZ IS

PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS TO MUZZLE THE INDEPENDENT

PRESS AND THE PUBLIC'S ACCESS TO INFORMATION, A KEY

COMPONENT IN ITS STRATEGY FOR THE 2002 PRESIDENTIAL

ELECTION. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) IN SPITE OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY MINISTER

JONATHAN MOYO'S (UNCONVINCING AND TEPID) EXPRESSION OF

CONCERN AFTER THE JANUARY 28 BOMBING OF THE "DAILY

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00741 01 OF 02 131359Z

NEWS" PRINTING PRESS, THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE'S

(GOZ) CAMPAIGN TO RESTRICT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND

ACCESS TO INFORMATION HAS INTENSIFIED. A FEBRUARY 3

NOTICE IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEWSPAPERS INSTRUCTED ALL

JOURNALISTS TO APPLY FOR NEW CREDENTIALS TO COVER

PARLIAMENT. THE REGISTRATION PERIOD RUNS THROUGH

FEBRUARY 16, BUT THE APPARENT INTENT OF THIS MOVE IS

TO ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO RESTRICT PARLIAMENTARY

COVERAGE TO "FRIENDLY" JOURNALISTS.

 

3. (C) THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION HAS ALSO SCRAPPED

CENTRALIZED ISSUANCE OF PRESS CREDENTIALS FOR COVERING

THE GOZ. JOURNALISTS MUST NOW APPLY TO EACH MINISTRY

OR BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE CREDENTIAL REQUIRED

FOR ACCESS. INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS ARE ALREADY

FEELING THE EFFECTS OF GOZ FIATS BANNING THEM FROM

SOME OFFICES AND EVENTS. ALL LEVELS OF THE ZIMBABWE

REPUBLIC POLICE, EVEN POLICE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICIALS,

NOW FLATLY REFUSE TO SPEAK TO JOURNALISTS FROM THE

INDEPENDENT MEDIA. INDEPENDENT MEDIA HAVE ALSO

RECENTLY BEEN BARRED FROM ATTENDING GOZ PRESS

CONFERENCES AND WERE BANNED FROM THE PUBLIC VIEWING OF

LAURENT KABILA'S BODY, AN EVENT THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED

MEDIA COVERED FULLY.

 

4. (U) IN JUNE 2000 THE GOZ INITIATED A US$100

ACCREDITATION FEE FOR FOREIGN JOURNALISTS WISHING TO

COVER ZIMBABWE'S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. THAT FEE

REMAINS IN FORCE, SUPPLEMENTED BY A US$500 FEE FOR A

TEMPORARY IMPORT PERMIT REQUIRED TO BRING TELEVISION

EQUIPMENT INTO ZIMBABWE. THESE FEES ARE AFFORDABLE BY

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00741 01 OF 02 131359Z

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA STANDARDS, BUT HAVE HAD THE EFFECT

OF REDUCING COVERAGE OF EVENTS IN ZIMBABWE BY REGIONAL

NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, FREE-LANCE REPORTERS AND

STRINGERS.

 

5. (C) DURING THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4 MINISTER MOYO

PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED HIS DETERMINATION TO LIMIT FOREIGN

OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA IN ZIMBABWE. FURTHERMORE, HE SAID

THAT INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWEAN

MEDIA SHOULD BE BANNED. THESE STATEMENTS ARE DIRECT

THREATS TO THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA, AND SEEM TO REFER

DIRECTLY TO THE INTERNATIONAL FUND-RAISING CAMPAIGN TO

HELP THE "DAILY NEWS" RECOVER FROM THE BOMBING OF ITS

PRESSES.

 

6. (C) THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED DAILY "THE HERALD"

INITIALLY TRUMPETED THE FACT THAT ITS PRESSES WERE

PRODUCING THE "DAILY NEWS" 3 TIMES PER WEEK

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE "DAILY NEWS" BOMBING. THEIR

HEADLINE WAS "HERALD RESCUES DAILY NEWS." THAT

ARRANGEMENT, STRUCK BY THE PAPER'S MANAGING DIRECTOR

STRICTLY AS A MONEYMAKING COMMERCIAL DEAL, WAS NIXED

TWO WEEKS LATER BY "POLITICAL BOSSES." THE "DAILY

NEWS" IS NOW SCRAMBLING TO FIND ANOTHER COMMERCIAL

PRINTER TO COVER THE 3 DAYS PER WEEK WHEN THEIR

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0503

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00741 02 OF 02 131359Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 INL-00

DODE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00

H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00

AC-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00

PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00

PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00

/010W

------------------C50DF4 131439Z /38

R 131400Z FEB 01

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8221

INFO NSC WASHDC

AMEMBASSY LONDON

AMEMBASSY PARIS

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000741

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S, AF/PD (COX, HOWARD, SANDERS)

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR WILLIAMS

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00741 02 OF 02 131359Z

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/11

TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE INTENSIFIES SQUEEZE ON

THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA

 

CURRENT COMMERCIAL PRINTER CANNOT PUBLISH THE PAPER.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: THIS SYSTEMATIC ATTACK ON THE

INDEPENDENT MEDIA FITS IN NEATLY WITH THE SIMULTANEOUS

GOZ EFFORT TO COW THE JUDICIARY AND THE OPPOSITION,

AND IS A KEY COMPONENT IN THE GOVERNMENT'S STRATEGY TO

RESTRICT THE PUBLIC'S ACCESS TO ALTERNATIVE VIEWS IN

THE RUN-UP TO THE 2002 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. TAKEN

BY ITSELF, THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA

IS AN INSIDIOUS THREAT TO FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. IN

COMBINATION WITH THE ATTACKS AGAINST THE JUDICIARY AND

THE OPPOSITION, IT IS A DANGEROUS ASSAULT ON

FUNDAMENTAL, CONSTITUTIONALLY-GUARANTEED HUMAN RIGHTS

AND WILL BOLSTER ZIMBABWE'S INCREASINGLY AUTHORITARIAN

TREND. END COMMENT.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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