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Cablegate: Zimbabwean Media Coverage of a/S Kansteiner

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

140821Z Dec 01


UNCLASSIFIED PTO0442

PAGE 01 HARARE 03724 140918Z
ACTION AF-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 EVG-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 USNW-00
DODE-00 DOTE-00 DS-00 EB-00 FAAE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 LAB-01 VCE-00 NSAE-00 TEST-00 USIE-00
DSCC-00 DRL-02 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /003W
------------------4B695B 140918Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0542

UNCLAS HARARE 003724

SIPDIS

INFO INFO AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

DEPT FOR AF, AF/S (DELISI, KRAFT), AF/RA (SWANN), AF/PD
(COX, ROBERTSON)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PREL ZI
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF A/S KANSTEINER
VISIT


1. SUMMARY: ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER'S DECEMBER
8-11 VISIT TO ZIMBABWE GENERATED COVERAGE IN BOTH PRINT
AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA. REPORTS IN PRIVATELY OWNED PRINT
MEDIA WERE FACTUAL. THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE
BROADCASTING CORPORATION DISTORTED ITS COVERAGE TO GIVE
THE IMPRESSION THAT THE UNITED STATES IS ATTEMPTING TO
BULLY ZIMBABWE. GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED PRINT MEDIA
IGNORED KANSTEINER'S VISIT. ASSISTANCE FROM EMBASSY
PRETORIA HELPED GET FACTUAL RADIO AND TV COVERAGE OF
KANSTEINER'S STATEMENTS TO INFLUENTIAL ZIMBABWEAN
AUDIENCES. END SUMMARY.

2. ON DECEMBER 12, THE INDEPENDENT "DAILY NEWS"
PUBLISHED A STRAIGHT ACCOUNT OF A/S KANSTEINER'S
DECEMBER 11 PRESS CONFERENCE IN HARARE. UNDER THE
HEADLINE "US ENVOY ENCOURAGES ZIMBABWE TO STEER TOWARD
DEMOCRACY" THE PAPER'S POLITICAL EDITOR OFFERED AN
ACCURATE REPORT ON THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PRESS
CONFERENCE AND DETAILS OF KANSTEINER'S VISIT TO
ZIMBABWE. INDEPENDENT WEEKLY "THE FINANCIAL GAZETTE"
ALSO PUBLISHED A COMPLETE AND FACTUAL ACCOUNT OF
KANSTEINER'S PRESS CONFERENCE UNDER THE HEADLINE "US
OFFICIAL LAMBASTS (SIC) GOVERNMENT OVER RULE OF LAW."
SUBHEAD READ: "A SENIOR US OFFICIAL SAID THIS WEEK THE
RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF ZIMBABWEANS WERE UNDER THREAT,
BUT THERE IS STILL TIME FOR PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE'S
GOVERNMENT TO STEER THE COUNTRY TOWARD FREE AND FAIR
ELECTIONS NEXT YEAR." THE "FINANCIAL GAZETTE" ALSO
PUBLISHED A FAVORABLE STORY ON US POLICY TOWARD
ZIMBABWE. THAT ARTICLE WAS BASED ON AN EMBASSY PRESS
RELEASE ABOUT ZDERA, DISTRIBUTED AT THE KANSTEINER
PRESS CONFERENCE AND TO A BROAD GROUP OF INFLUENTIAL
ZIMBABWEANS. COPIES OF THE "DAILY NEWS" AND "FINANCIAL
GAZETTE" ARTICLES HAVE BEEN FAXED TO AF/S AND AF/PD.

3. GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING
CORPORATION (ZBC) TV AND RADIO COVERAGE OF THE PRESS
CONFERENCE WAS BLATANTLY DISTORTED AND HEAVILY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HARARE 03724 140918Z
POLITICIZED. IN ITS SEPTEMBER 11 PRIME-TIME NEWS
PROGRAM, ZBC TV REPORTED THAT KANSTEINER HAD CALLED FOR
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PARLIAMENTARY
FORUM OBSERVATION OF ZIMBABWE'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
THE REPORTER SAID THAT THIS WAS "IN COMPLETE VIOLATION
OF ZIMBABWE'S CONSTITUTION." THE REPORT WAS FALSE, AS
KANSTEINER MADE NO MENTION OF SADC OBSERVATION OF
ZIMBABWEAN ELECTIONS. HE DID SUGGEST THAT SADC
PARLIAMENTARY FORUM NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR ELECTIONS
WOULD PROVIDE A GOOD BENCHMARK FOR EVALUATING THE
FAIRNESS OF ZIMBABWE'S ELECTIONS, BUT THE ZBC SEEMS TO
HAVE MISSED THE POINT. NONE OF THE OTHER 17 NEWS
ORGANIZATIONS AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE MISUNDERSTOOD
KANSTEINER'S STATEMENTS. THE EMBASSY RESPONDED
IMMEDIATELY TO THIS DISTORTION WITH A PRESS RELEASE
CORRECTING THE ZBC'S REPORT. ZBC TV AND RADIO COVERAGE
OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ALSO INCLUDED HEAVY
EDITORIALIZING, CLAIMING THAT U.S. POLICY TOWARD
ZIMBABWE WAS "ILLEGAL," THAT ZDERA WOULD HURT THE
COMMON CITIZEN, AND THAT AMERICAN CRITICISM OF ZIMBABWE
WAS DUE TO OPPOSITION TO LAND REFORM.

4. GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEWSPAPERS FAILED TO REPORT ON
THE KANSTEINER VISIT. A/S KANSTEINER CEREMONIALLY
DELIVERED USG DONATIONS TO LOCAL HIV/AIDS
ORGANIZATIONS, BUT THE "HERALD" REPORT ON THE DONATION
SOMEHOW OMITTED MENTION OF HIS PRESENCE AT THE
CEREMONY.

5. A/S KANSTEINER ALSO GAVE INTERVIEWS TO THE BBC, E-
TV AND THE SABC DURING HIS VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HARARE 03724 140918Z
THESE BROADCASTS REACHED ZIMBABWEAN ELITE THROUGH
SATELLITE TELEVISION AND SHORT-WAVE RADIO, AND HELPED
GIVE OPINION

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