Search

 

Cablegate: In the Absence of Results, Rumors: The State Media

VZCZCXRO2608
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0274/01 0941622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031622Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2694
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1876
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1999
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0572
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1276
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1633
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2055
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4486
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUAEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1126
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000274

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM ASEC ZI
SUBJECT: IN THE ABSENCE OF RESULTS, RUMORS: THE STATE MEDIA
REACTS

REF: A. HARARE 266

B. HARARE 269
C. HARARE 254

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Four days after Zimbabwe's national
election, presidential and senate results have yet to be
announced, but rumors abound. The government-run newspaper,
The Herald, dedicated much of its April 2 issue to
post)election propaganda. In what appears to be an attempt
to manage expectations and tamper excitement about change in
the State House, the newspaper refuted MDC claims of victory,
applauded the role of the electoral commission, fanned fears
of a dismal future under an opposition-led executive, and
promulgated conspiracy theories of Western intervention.
Nonetheless, all evidence suggests the majority of
Zimbabweans are ready for a change. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Under the headline "ZANU, MDC in Photo Finish",
Zimbabwe,s state-run newspaper's April 2 edition worked to
maintain the appearance that ZANU remains in control. While
The Herald, using results from the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), conceded that the opposition MDC leads in
House of Assembly seats (99-97), it emphasized that ZANU won
the popular vote. If extrapolated to the presidential race,
this could suggest momentum for a ZANU win in the rumored
upcoming runoff or lend credibility to a ZEC announcement of
a Mugabe win.

3. (SBU) What the paper failed to highlight, however, was
that ZEC's results also revealed that the opposition tally,
combining the MDC-Tsvangirai and MDC-Mutambara factions along
with independent candidates, exceeded ZANU's total by 196,525
votes and put the opposition in control of Parliament with
106 seats. With the opposition ahead in the both the popular
vote and in seats gained, the desire for change in Zimbabwe
is clear.

4. (SBU) In the wake of the MDC's announcement of its victory
in both the presidential and Assembly races (reftel A), The
Herald went on the attack. Quoting the ZANU secretary for
administration, the paper reported that the MDC's
announcement was both incorrect and illegal, as ZEC was the
only body authorized to declare final results. The article
went on to criticize the MDC for speaking to the
international media and accused the opposition of attempting
to confuse the public about the outcome of the election. The
Herald failed to note that the opposition party has stated on
numerous occasions that MDC figures were based on publicly
available information from polling station postings, and were
not meant to be viewed as certified results.

5. (SBU) The Herald gave significant coverage to touting the
work of ZEC, which, according to the paper, "is emerging this
week as the bedrock of a peaceful and transparent election."
The Herald noted that preliminary statements by observer
missions; including the Common Market for East and Southern
Africa, the Pan African Parliament (PAP), and the Southern
African Development Community, deemed ZEC,s efforts and the
elections as credible. The paper did not report on PAP,s
caveat that the delay in the announcement of the results was
a serious concern that could suggest fraud (reftel B).

6. (SBU) Other Herald articles condemned the role of NGOs,
the international media and Western governments for their
"hidden hand" in the election. The newspaper reported that
U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown had "hinted" on the BBC at
increased aid for Zimbabwe if Tsvangirai won the presidency.
State-run radio has been airing programs blaming Western
sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic crisis. The paper claimed
that in contrast with the silence from African leaders, the

HARARE 00000274 002 OF 002


West's statements calling for results to be released were a
sign of political maneuvering by "unfriendly nations" to
promote regime change. The international media, much of
which was officially banned from covering the election from
inside Zimbabwe, was criticized for spreading conspiracy
theories about ZANU. The African Union observer mission
delegation leader criticized CNN,s "biased reporting"
following a meeting with Mugabe. The accuracy of parallel
tabulations by "the MDC and its civil society compatriots"
was questioned by The Herald in a veiled reference to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network's sample vote count
(reftel C).

7. (SBU) Additional articles were written within the context
of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle, of which Mugabe is still
considered a hero, and the ruling party's subsequent
controversial land reform efforts, during which farms
belonging to whites were seized and redistributed to
liberation veterans. One story described Tsvangirai and
presidential candidate Simba Makoni as "Western stooges" who
were "being used to sabotage the land reform program." In
another, The Herald reported on "the conspicuous flow of many
white commercial farmers who trooped back to Zimbabwe once
the MDC prematurely claimed victory. Some of them headed to
farms where they threatened to evict newly settled farmers."
One veteran from the liberation war was quoted as saying, "we
will be left with no option except to take up arms and defend
our pieces of land" if Tsvangirai wins.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: In an apparent move to rekindle nationalist
sentiment and remind Zimbabweans of Mugabe's once popular
political agenda, ZANU, through its government mouthpiece, is
playing on some of the country's most emotional issues,
including white rule and Zimbabwe's perpetual political hot
potato, land reform. Whether this return to campaign mode
will have any impact on voters in either a runoff scenario or
in the case of a Mugabe power grab remains to be seen.
However, results released so far only lend credence to the
perception that Zimbabweans are ready for change no matter
what tactics are employed to impact their vote. END COMMENT.

MCGEE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC