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Cablegate: Paper Cries Foul As Police Arrest Vendors

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

250516Z Oct 01


UNCLASSIFIED PTO9816

PAGE 01 HARARE 03197 250547Z
ACTION INR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 A-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00
DS-00 EUR-00 UTED-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 VCE-00 NSAE-00
TEST-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02 NFAT-00 SAS-00
/002W
------------------350314 250547Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0105
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
AMEMBASSY GABORONE
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
AMEMBASSY LONDON

UNCLAS HARARE 003197

SIPDIS

AF/PD FOR COX, ROBERTSON, AF/S FOR KRAFT, AF/P,
INR/R/MR, NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: PAPER CRIES FOUL AS POLICE ARREST VENDORS


1. IN THE LAST WEEK ZIMBABWE REPUBLIC POLICE HAVE
ARRESTED A NUMBER OF NEWSPAPER VENDORS ON WORKING
HARARE'S STREETS. POLICE CLAIM THEY ARE ARRESTING
PEOPLE FOR "BLOCKING PUBLIC THOROUGHFARES." A COMMON
SIGHT IN THE MORNING RUSH HOUR, NEWSPAPER VENDORS STAND
IN THE MIDDLE OF STREETS NEAR MAJOR INTERSECTIONS,
DARTING INTO TRAFFIC TO SELL PAPERS TO PASSING
COMMUTERS. OFFICIALS AT THE PRIVATELY OWNED "DAILY
NEWS" TELL US THAT THEIR SALES HAVE BEEN HURT BY THE
ARRESTS. EDITORS AND PUBLISHERS OF PRIVATELY OWNED
MEDIA SEE THE CRACKDOWN AS PART OF A GOVERNMENT PLAN TO
RESTRICT THE DISTRIBUTION OF NEWS, ALTHOUGH OUR
ANECDOTAL INFORMATION INDICATES THAT ALL NEWSPAPER
VENDORS, NOT JUST THOSE SELLING PRIVATELY OWNED
NEWSPAPERS, WERE AFFECTED. AS OF OCT. 24, MOST VENDORS
APPEAR TO HAVE RETREATED TO THE RELATIVE SAFETY OF
CURBS AND TRAFFIC ISLANDS.

2. IN RESPONSE TO THE POLICE EFFORTS TO GET VENDORS
OFF THE STREETS, THE INDEPENDENT DAILY "THE DAILY NEWS"
DEDICATED ITS OCTOBER 23 EDITION TO PROTEST AGAINST THE
HARASSMENT OF NEWSPAPER VENDORS BY THE POLICE. UNDER
HEADLINE "ZIMBABWE SLOWLY SLIDING INTO AUTHORITARIAN
RULE," THE PAPER COMMENTS:

3. "THE CRACKDOWN ON NEWSPAPER VENDORS BY THE POLICE
IS
PART OF A STRATEGY TO ENSURE THE GOVERNMENT'S
MOUTHPIECES, THE ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING CORPORATION
(THE SOLE BROADCASTER IN THE COUNTRY) AND ZIMBABWE
NEWSPAPERS (PUBLISHERS OF "THE HERALD," THE SUNDAY
MAIL," "THE CHRONICLE," AND THREE OTHER TITLES), ARE
THE ONLY ONES ZIMBABWEANS WILL LISTEN TO AND READ.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HARARE 03197 250547Z
ONLY THEY WILL BE ALLOWED TO REFLECT THE ZIMBABWEAN
REALITY, ACCORDING TO ZANU PF. EVEN IAN SMITH WAS
NOT AS VINDICTIVE AS ZANU PF SOMETIMES SHOWS ITSELF
TO BE. THE SUGGESTION THAT THE POLICE ARE ARRESTING
NEWSPAPER VENDORS FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY IS AS BIZARRE
AS IT IS ABSURD. . .

THE PRACTICE ALL OVER THE WORLD IS THAT NEWSPAPER
VENDORS SELL THEIR PRODUCTS ON STREET CORNERS. . .
THAT VENDORS THREATEN THE SAFETY OF MOTORISTS IS A
LIE. NEWSPAPERS THREATEN THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRE TO
CLING TO POWER. THE SELLING OF NEWSPAPERS HAS NOT
CREATED A CRISIS ON THE STREETS. NO ACCIDENTS HAVE
BEEN REPORTED. . .

OBVIOUSLY, THE STRATEGY IS NOT JUST TO DISRUPT THE
SALES OF NEWSPAPERS. IT SEEKS TO LIMIT THE
INFLUENCE OF NEWSPAPERS IN INFORMING ZIMBABWEANS
ABOUT THE UNFOLDING TRAGEDY IN THEIR COUNTRY. THIS
IS A DECLARATION OF A NEWS BLACKOUT. . ."

SULLIVAN

UNCLASSIFIED

>

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