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Cablegate: Media Report Zim Turns 22; 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 000955

SIPDIS

AF/PD FOR COX AND ROBERTSON, AF/S FOR KRAFT AND SCHLACHTER,
AF/RA FOR SWANN, INR/R/MR, NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT ZIM TURNS 22; HARARE


1. Editorials published in the April 18 and 19 editions
of
the mainstream newspapers concentrate on Zimbabwe's 22nd
anniversary. Editorial excerpts:

2. Under headline "Spirit of togetherness is heartening,"
the government-controlled daily "The Herald" (04/19)
comments:

"The turnout at yesterday's independence celebrations
throughout the country is a clear affirmation of
President Mugabe's leadership. Thousands of Zimbabweans
from both the ruling ZANU PF and opposition MDC turned
out to hear President Mugabe's independence message.
For the first time in over two years, the MDC joined
hands with other Zimbabweans to commemorate the
country's 22 years of independence. . .This show of
unity was in keeping with President Mugabe's call for
all Zimbabweans to cast their political, religious,
ethnic or cultural differences aside and concentrate on
nation building. Zimbabweans have been waiting for a
long time to see this kind of political maturity
displayed as it sends the right signals to the outside
world that, despite our political differences, we are
one nation. The celebration of this Independence Day by
all nationals should signify a new thinking and unity of
purpose. It is an affirmation of the country's
sovereignty and will send an unambiguous message to the
country's detractors that were bent on dividing the
nation and re-colonizing us. We expect the entire
country to rally behind its leaders in charting a new
course for the revival of the economy. . .The
independence celebrations have started the ball rolling
and political leaders should now tone down inflammatory
statements that don't build the nation but distract
attention from the real development needs of the people.
. .We also commend the leader of the MDC, Mr. Morgan
Tsvangirai, for urging his supporters to attend the
independence celebrations. . .This gesture is a good
sign for the future and will mean that the opposition
can now be part and parcel of the various national
processes of the country. . .A new chapter was opened. .
.and hopefully there will be no one to spoil this new
spirit of togetherness as we join hands to build a new,
revitalized Zimbabwe."

3. Under headline "Journey without maps," the independent
weekly "The Financial Gazette" (04/18) comments:

". . .But for all the seemingly business-as-usual
attitude adopted by Zimbabwe's leaders in the face of
widening international condemnation and isolation, it is
clear that the sanctions are beginning to have a telling
and that Mugabe and his officials are deeply worried
about the road ahead. Nothing bears out the
government's worry more than its rabid response to the
sanctions because, if they were of no effect at all,
none of its members would bother even to respond. And
yet despite this realization, Harare somehow seems to
think that it has the wherewithal to ride over the storm
of its isolation, in the same manner as former Rhodesian
premier Ian Smith hoped he would do in the turbulent
1960s and 1970s. As Smith now knows only too well, a
vain attempt to defy the world over a clear injustice
has its price, and Rhodesia and Smith himself eventually
learnt this lesson to their grief. It won't be
different now for Mugabe. . .As Zimbabwe today marks its
22 years of independence, is it not an irony that the
country is once again under international sanctions for
government-sponsored anarchy, as it was for several
years up to 1980? Instead of withdrawing into a cul-de-
sac and hoping that normalcy will eventually return to
Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his advisers must get real and do
so quickly. They need to acknowledge the deep-seated
grievances that their actions have caused and correct
these before it is too late. Not even the half-backed
economic reforms led by agriculture, which the
government is toying around with, will ever work in a
climate of mayhem and international sanctions. The
alternative to doing the right thing now is clear:
Mugabe and his government will face the same ignominious
exit as Smith did. It could even be worse."

4. Under headline "Marking final victory over the
colonial
yoke," the government-controlled daily "The Herald"
(04/18) ran the following comment on page one:

"Although battered and bruised, Zimbabweans today
celebrate the final victory against the yoke of
colonialism and can now stand proud and tall as a truly
independent African nation. . .Despite 22 years of
independence, the ghost of colonialism was still
haunting the country and this spook was finally
exorcised in the March 9-11 presidential poll. The
country has now truly come of age and will have to learn
to stand on its own feet. The sanctions that are being
applied against Zimbabwe by mostly European countries
and the U. S. remove the safety guards the country
needed in its early years of independence. While most
urbanites are reasonably concerned and scared at the
prospect of going it alone, we need to assure them that
this is the perfect opportunity for the country to dig
deep within itself and develop a truly Zimbabwean
economy that is owned and driven by its own people. The
sanctions are indeed a blessing in disguise as they
serve as a test among ourselves to see whether we
qualify to be independent or not. We have had 22 years
to learn the ropes of governance and business, it is now
time we started fending for ourselves. . . ."

5. Under headline "Little cause for cheer on Independence
Day," the independent daily "The Daily News" (04/18)
comments:

"Today, the government will reflect on its 22-year rule.
It would like everyone to believe that its achievements
are unparalleled, but that is not entirely true. Its
gains were during the first decade of independence and
were in the areas of education and health. However,
since the 1990s, there was a rapid erosion of those
gains that the losses now seem to outweigh the
achievements. . .Lest the people are bamboozled, those
attending the Independence celebrations today need to
see beyond the rhetoric and identify who is to blame for
the sorry state Zimbabwe finds itself in."

WHITEHEAD

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