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Tsvangirai must pay for his sins

The divide between the State-owned and privately-owned media was amply demonstrated in the run-up to the proposed week-long anti-government demonstration that had been called for by the Movement for Democratic Change in June 2003.

The Daily News said the fact that the Zimbabwe crisis was now being resolved on the streets should be a sad indictment on the country’s leadership, and on President Robert Mugabe personally.

The Herald said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai must pay for his sins against the people of Zimbabwe and must be shown that he is not above the law.

The Chronicle said Tsvangirai must be thrown into jail and the keys thrown into the sea.

The Daily News on Sunday said the protest must be allowed to proceed unless there was clear evidence of violence because interfering could lead to a political dead-end.

The Standard said the protest could mark a turning point in the country’s 23-year history as citizens made a choice between the status quo and a new political dispensation.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1092, MEDIA REACTION MASS ACTION IN ZIM; HARARE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1092

2003-06-02 08:07

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 001092

 

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 PHUM KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION MASS ACTION IN ZIM; HARARE

 

1.   While editorials in the independent newspapers are in

favor of the proposed week-long mass protests that are

expected to begin in Zimbabwe today (June 2), called by the

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to force

Robert Mugabe to enter into a serious and genuine dialogue

with the MDC to break the political and economic impasse

gripping the country, the government-controlled print and

electronic media is devoting acres of editorial space and

airtime to calling for the arrest of the entire MDC

leadership, and discouraging the people of Zimbabwe from

participating in the marches and demonstrations. Editorial

excerpts follow:

 

2.   Under headline “The price of inertia” the independent

daily “The Daily News” (06/02) comments:

 

“Today the MDC party begins a week of mass

demonstrations. . .MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and

his party may or may not succeed in this onerous

task they have set themselves. But that the

Zimbabwe crisis must now be resolved in the streets

and possibly with innocent blood being shed in the

process is a sad indictment against those to whom

ordinary Zimbabweans and indeed millions of ordinary

Africans look up to for leadership. It would be an

indictment against Mugabe personally if Zimbabwe

burns in the days ahead. . .We can only hope that

the events of this week will be clear enough to

Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi that they should stop

shielding Mugabe. And that instead they should

convey the message that Zimbabweans by coming out

into the streets are trying to put across to him and

that is: for all the good he may have done for this

country in the past he must step down in order to

give this country a chance to start afresh and move

forward.”

 

3.   Under headline “Tsvangirai must pay for his sins” the

government-controlled daily “The Herald” (06/02) comments:

 

“The time has now come for opposition MDC leader,

Morgan Tsvangirai, to pay the price for his sins

against the people of Zimbabwe and to show him that,

like everyone else, he is not above the law. . .His

unprecedented backing by the United States, Britain,

some members of the European Union and the white

Commonwealth has made him feel invincible and that

no one can touch him no matter how many laws he

breaks and how much suffering he has brought to bear

on the people of Zimbabwe. . .Until his case is

finalized, the MDC leader must be put into

protective custody so that he does not further

endanger the lives of innocent people who might be

caught up in the crossfire of his reckless

actions. . .It is now time to act and reassure

Zimbabweans that everyone is equal before the law. .

. .”

 

4.   Under headline “Enough is enough” a front-page

editorial in the government-controlled “Chronicle”

(06/02) comments:

 

“The High Court on Saturday outlawed MDC’s planned

mass action to oust President Mugabe’s

democratically elected government from power. . .If

Tsvangirai and his thugs dare defy this lawful

order, then they should face the full wrath of the

law. . .We demand that police should move with speed

and arrest the confused opposition leader and his

cronies and throw the keys into the sea.   Enough is

enough. . .We cannot tolerate lawlessness in the

country because the perpetrator is backed by some

foreign power that will condemn us for doing what is

right. Let the British and the Americans who have

openly supported Tsvangirai’s illegal statement and

actions say whatever they want. We cannot be

bullied into allowing lawlessness because we are

afraid of cowboys and gay gangsters. . .We demand

that any and all that dare soil our streets with

misguided marches must be thrown behind bars. And

we urge the courts to throw the full book at any one

who will be arrested. . .We urge members of the

public to show charlatans like Tsvangirai that they

cherish the peace and tranquility by going about

their business normally this entire week. . . .”

 

5.   Under headline “Road map for Zimbabwe” the independent

weekly “The Daily News on Sunday” (06/02) comments:

 

“. . .The government would be well-advised to let

the march proceeds uninterrupted, unless there is

clear evidence of violence. Interfering with such a

road map could lead to a political dead-end for the

country.”

 

6.   In a front-page editorial under headline “Do or Die”

the independent weekly “The Standard” (06/01)

comments:

 

“The week we have just begun could mark a turning

point in the 23-year history of independent Zimbabwe

as ordinary citizens make the choice between the

status quo and a new political dispensation. It is

a sad indictment those who have enjoyed the

privilege of leading this country over the past 23

years that today, a once prosperous beacon of hope

in Africa, has been reduced to another basket case

in a much maligned continent. . .As Zimbabweans

either march in their cities and towns or simply

stay at home, it will not necessarily be about the

removing the de facto President and the government

from power but to say `Enough is Enough.’ The tide

of feeling about the tragedy that has gripped the

country is running very high and this could be the

opportunity for Zimbabweans to shake off a label now

being bandied around – that we are a docile

people. . . .”

 

7.   Under headline “The fire this time” a second editorial

published on page 8 in the same edition comments:

 

“. . .This week’s demonstrations are not the sort

that split society and families. Zimbabweans of all

races and creeds fully support these peaceful

marches and want to be fully involved in them and if

uniformed forces try to mow down the marchers, they

will be forgiven. Be that as it may, Zimbabweans

this week will prove equal to the challenge. The

demonstrations this time appear to usher a new

Zimbabwe.”

 

8.   Under headline “Defining moment for Zimbabweans” the

government-controlled weekly “The Sunday Mail”

(06/01) comments:

 

“We are praying and hoping that reason will prevail

and Zimbabweans will not be mislead into backing the

maneuvers by the opposition MDC to attempt to remove

a constitutionally elected President by force. This

is a defining moment, not in the sense in which the

opposition would want it to be, but in the sense

that Zimbabweans have an opportunity to demonstrate

their political maturity, and uphold the rule of

law. . .Taking matters into their own hands would be

foolish, as it would at best achieve nothing and at

worst set the country up in flames. While many

would have views about how the political question

should be resolved, we believe they should give the

African mediators an opportunity to find common

grounds around which national dialogue and hopefully

national consensus could be built. . . .”

 

SULLIVAN

 

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