Herald editor spills the beans about Jonathan Moyo’s interference

Herald editor for only seven months Ray Mungoshi poured his heart out to United States embassy officials in an hour-long meeting on 27 March 2001 about the daily harassment he was getting from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

Mungoshi talked about Moyo’s active subversion of his editorship after he had been fired. He also talked about Moyo’s efforts to plant false stories in the newspaper, crumbling morale at the paper and his fears that Moyo's determination to run the paper would end up destroying it.

On one occasion, Mungoshi said, Moyo sent a story alleging that Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa was involved in illegal foreign exchange dealings.

Mungoshi sent out two reporters to work on the story but when they found no evidence he refused to run the story. He said this prompted a barrage of verbal abuse from Moyo, who told him that he had no right to question any stories Moyo wished to have published in the Herald.

After that incident, Mungoshi said he became accustomed to finding stories in the newspaper that he had never seen before or approved.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE1177, FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE1177

2001-03-30 11:23

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.

 

301123Z Mar 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6391

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 01177 01 OF 02 301119Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DINT-00 DODE-00

DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-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   PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00

NFAT-00 SAS-00     /010W

------------------D94883 301120Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8539

INFO NSC WASHDC

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001177

 

SIPDIS

 

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

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/11

TAGS: PGOV PROP PHUM KPAO PINR ZI

SUBJECT: FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 01177 01 OF 02 301119Z

STATE'S PROPAGANDA EFFORTS

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR

REASONS 1.5 B/D.

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: IN AN HOUR-LONG MARCH 27 MEETING, THE

RECENTLY FIRED EDITOR OF THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED DAILY

"THE HERALD" SPOKE OPENLY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT'S USE

OF THE PAPER AS A PROPAGANDA TOOL. FORMER "HERALD"

EDITOR RAY MUNGOSHI (35) (PROTECT) TOLD EMBOFF ABOUT

DAILY HARASSMENT FROM INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN

MOYO, THE MINISTER'S ACTIVE SUBVERSION OF HIS

EDITORSHIP, THE MINISTER'S EFFORTS TO PLANT FALSE

STORIES IN THE NEWSPAPER, CRUMBLING MORALE AT THE

PAPER AND MUNGOSHI'S FEARS THAT MOYO'S DETERMINATION

TO RUN THE PAPER WILL END UP DESTROYING IT. WHILE

MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT LIKELY INCLUDED SOME EMBELLISHMENT

OF HIS ROLE IN DEFENSE OF MEDIA FREEDOM, HIS ACCOUNT

OF DIRECT CABINET-LEVEL INTERFERENCE IN THE NEWSPAPER

RING THOROUGHLY TRUE. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) RAY MUNGOSHI'S EDITORSHIP OF THE GOVERNMENT-

OWNED AND CONTROLLED "HERALD" LASTED ONLY 7 MONTHS.

HE WAS APPOINTED EDITOR ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2000, AND

SACKED ON MARCH 14, 2001. HE SUCCEEDED BORNWELL

CHAKAODZA, WHO HAD BEEN EDITOR FOR TWO-AND-A-HALF

YEARS. INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO SACKED

CHAKAODZA FOR HIS ATTEMPTS TO REBUILD THE "HERALD'S"

CREDIBILITY AFTER ITS SHAMELESSLY PARTISAN COVERAGE OF

THE JUNE 2000 PARLIAMENTARY CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION.

(NOTE: BETWEEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM OF

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 01177 01 OF 02 301119Z

FEBRUARY 2000 AND THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN LATE-

JUNE 2000, THE HERALD'S DAILY CIRCULATION PLUMMETED

FROM ABOUT 80,000 TO ABOUT 40,000. CHAKAODZA'S

EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THE EDITORIAL INTEGRITY OF THE

PAPER WERE DRIVEN BY FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS NEEDS.

HIS POLICIES DID SUCCEED IN RAISING THE CIRCULATION OF

THE "HERALD" BACK TO AROUND 70,000 COPIES PER DAY.

END NOTE)

 

3. (C) ACCORDING TO MUNGOSHI, HE ACCEPTED THE JOB

DETERMINED TO CONSOLIDATE RECENT GAINS IN CIRCULATION

AND KEEP THE "HERALD" FINANCIALLY VIABLE BY DEFENDING

IT FROM GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. INITIALLY, HE SAID,

ZIMPAPERS (THE HOLDING COMPANY FOR ALL GOVERNMENT-

OWNED NEWSPAPERS) MANAGING DIRECTOR TOMMY SITHOLE

SHIELDED HIM FROM THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION. THAT

DID NOT LAST, HOWEVER, AND BY DECEMBER AND THE ZANU-PF

PARTY CONGRESS, INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO

CALLED MUNGOSHI ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS, USUALLY AT

ABOUT 0600 IN THE MORNING. MUNGOSHI SAID THAT THESE

CALLS OFTEN LASTED 30 TO 45 MINUTES, AND WERE OFTEN

ANGRY DIATRIBES ABOUT THE "HERALD'S" LACK OF SUPPORT

FOR THE GOVERNMENT. MOYO ALSO USED THESE PHONE CALLS

TO TELL MUNGOSHI WHAT THE NEXT DAY'S EDITORIAL SHOULD

BE, OR WHAT STORY HE WANTED TO SEE ON THE FIRST PAGE.

MUNGOSHI SAID THAT HE STOOD UP TO MOYO WHENEVER HE

COULD, BUT CONFESSED THAT THE PRESSURE WAS SOMETIMES

TOO MUCH AND HE WOULD "LIE LOW" FOR A WEEK OR TWO JUST

TO STOP THE EARLY MORNING RANTING.

 

4. (C) MUNGOSHI ALSO TOLD US THAT MINISTER MOYO WOULD

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 01177 01 OF 02 301119Z

SEND READY-TO-PRINT STORIES TO THE PAPER AND EXPECT TO

SEE THEM PUBLISHED WITHOUT QUESTION OR ALTERATIONS.

HE DESCRIBED ONE SPECIFIC INCIDENT IN WHICH MOYO SENT

A STORY ALLEGING THAT LEADING ZIMBABWEAN BUSINESSMAN

STRIVE MASIYIWA (ECONET CELLULAR) WAS INVOLVED IN

ILLEGAL FOREIGN EXCHANGE DEALINGS. MUNGOSHI, WHO

KNOWS THE BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN MASIYIWA AND BELIEVES

HIM TO BE AN HONEST, LAW-ABIDING MAN, DETAILED TWO

REPORTERS TO CONFIRM THE DETAILS OF THE STORY. THE

REPORTERS DETERMINED THAT THERE WAS NO BASIS TO THE

STORY, SO MUNGOSHI REFUSED TO RUN IT. THAT DECISION

PROMPTED A BARRAGE OF VERBAL ABUSE FROM MOYO, WHO

APPARENTLY TOLD MUNGOSHI THAT HE HAD NO RIGHT TO

QUESTION ANY STORIES MOYO WISHED TO HAVE PUBLISHED IN

THE "HERALD."

 

5. (C) IN THE WAKE OF THE MASIYIWA INCIDENT, MUNGOSHI

SAYS THAT HE BECAME ACCUSTOMED TO FINDING STORIES IN

THE NEWSPAPER THAT HE HAD NEVER BEFORE SEEN OR

APPROVED. MINISTER MOYO WENT DIRECTLY TO SUB-EDITORS

AND PRODUCTION STAFF TO HAVE STORIES PLACED IN THE

PAPER AFTER MUNGOSHI HAD APPROVED AN EDITION AND "PUT

IT TO BED." MOYO'S BYPASSING OF MUNGOSHI HAD

DISASTROUS RESULTS ON MORALE AT THE PAPER AND SEVERELY

UNDERMINED WHAT MUNGOSHI SAYS WAS HIS DETERMINATION TO

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6392

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 01177 02 OF 02 301120Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DINT-00 DODE-00

DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-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   PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00

NFAT-00 SAS-00     /010W

------------------D9488F 301120Z /38

R 301123Z MAR 01

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8540

INFO NSC WASHDC

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 001177

 

SIPDIS

 

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

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/11

TAGS: PGOV PROP PHUM KPAO PINR ZI

SUBJECT: FIRED GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR DETAILS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 01177 02 OF 02 301120Z

STATE'S PROPAGANDA EFFORTS

 

MAKE THE "HERALD" A PAPER "FOR ALL THE PEOPLE OF

ZIMBABWE."

 

6. (C) TO HIS SURPRISE, MUNGOSHI WAS SELECTED BY MOYO

TO BE ONE OF THREE JOURNALISTS TO INTERVIEW PRESIDENT

MUGABE ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESIDENT'S BIRTHDAY.

THIS IS REGARDED AS AN HONOR RESERVED ONLY FOR THE

MOST TRUSTED AND LOYAL JOURNALISTS. MUNGOSHI TOOK

THIS AS A SIGNAL THAT MOYO HAD DECIDED TO CHANGE TACK

AND ALLOW THE "HERALD" GREATER INDEPENDENCE. THREE

WEEKS AFTER THE INTERVIEW, HOWEVER, MOYO DEMANDED

MUNGOSHI'S RESIGNATION. MUNGOSHI REFUSED TO RESIGN

AND MOYO PROMPTLY FIRED HIM. MUNGOSHI AND "SUNDAY

MAIL" (ALSO GOVERNMENT-OWNED) EDITOR FUNNY MUSHAVA

WERE FIRED ON THE SAME DAY, 10 DAYS AFTER MOYO SACKED

ZIMPAPERS MANAGING DIRECTOR SITHOLE. MINISTER MOYO

REPLACED BOTH EDITORS WITH MEN KNOWN TO BE SYMPATHETIC

TO THE MINISTER'S DESIRE TO USE THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED

MEDIA AS A BLATANT PROPAGANDA INSTRUMENT.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT OF HIS EDITORSHIP

IS SOMEWHAT SELF-SERVING. HE PORTRAYS HIMSELF AS A

BRAVE DEFENDER OF MEDIA INDEPENDENCE, BUT THE

"HERALD'S" RECORD OF THE LAST 7 MONTHS DOES NOT OFFER

MUCH EVIDENCE OF INDEPENDENT REPORTING. NONETHELESS,

MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNTS OF MINISTER MOYO'S HARASSMENT AND

EVENTUAL DE FACTO EDITORSHIP OF THE PAPER RING TRUE.

MUNGOSHI'S ACCOUNT CONFIRMS THE ARROGANCE AND

DESTRUCTIVE DETERMINATION OF INFORMATION MINISTER

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 01177 02 OF 02 301120Z

JONATHAN MOYO TO USE THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED MEDIA IN ANY

WAY HE CHOOSES TO PROMOTE PRO-GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA

AND LIES. MUNGOSHI'S EXPERIENCE ALSO CONFIRMS THE

ENORMOUS POWER AND LATITUDE FOR ACTION INFORMATION

MINISTER MOYO CURRENTLY HAS IN ZIMBABWE.

 

8. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: MUNGOSHI IS REALISTIC WHEN

IT COMES TO HIS OWN FUTURE IN ZIMBABWE: "I'M FINISHED

AS A JOURNALIST IN THE COUNTRY," HE SAYS. "WHO WOULD

HAVE ME NOW?" HE HAS TURNED DOWN REQUESTS FROM THE

BBC AND SABC FOR INTERVIEWS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE AT

THE "HERALD," PROBABLY WISE SINCE HE HAS A LAWYER

WORKING FULL TIME TO "ASSESS THE QUANTUM OF THE

DAMAGES" RELATED TO HIS FIRING. MUNGOSHI SAYS HE

WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO UNIVERSITY, GET A GRADUATE

DEGREE IN JOURNALISM, AND PERHAPS BECOME A PROFESSOR

OF JOURNALISM AT A ZIMBABWEAN UNIVERSITY. FOR THE

TIME BEING, HE IS WORKING ON ENGINEERING THE LARGEST

POSSIBLE SEVERANCE DEAL FROM ZIMPAPERS, AND BASKING IN

THE PLEASURE OF PEACEFUL EARLY MORNINGS. END COMMENT.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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