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Cablegate: Media Report: Nyarota Fired; Harare

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

UNCLAS HARARE 002891

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL, SIMS AND AF/S
NSC FOR JFRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT: NYAROTA FIRED; HARARE

REF: HARARE 2616

1. Geoffrey Nyarota (52), award-winning Editor-in-Chief
of the "Daily News," has been fired by the newspaper's
board of directors. His deputy, Davison Maruziva, who had
been asked to step in as acting editor by management, has
also resigned in protest against Nyarota's dismissal.
Circumstances leading to Nyarota's separation from
Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper are still
murky, but seem to be linked to an ongoing labor dispute
between journalists and management.

2. In today's paper, Sam Nkomo, chairman of Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (parent company of the "Daily
News"), states that Nyarota was terminated by the board
with immediate effect, but fails to provide a reason for
his dismissal. According to the BBC, Nyarota denies having
been fired and says he "resigned for the good of the
paper." Many sources say that Nyarota's dismissal has to
do with an ongoing strike by the paper's staff, who are
seeking a 150% cost of living salary increase. The "Daily
News" has been crippled by the industrial action, failing
to produce a paper December 21 - 30, 2002.

3. In March 1999 Nyarota, together with other local and
foreign investors, launched the "Daily News," a newspaper
that now has the highest circulation in Zimbabwe. The
paper has generally lived up to its motto of "telling it
like it is." Its principled, tenacious, independent style
of journalism has earned praise at home and abroad.
Nyarota himself has been the recipient of numerous
international awards, including the World Association of
Newspapers' annual press freedom award in May 2002.
Despite death threats, arrests and the bombing of his
newspaper's printing press in January 2001, Nyarota
continued to publish articles critical of the Mugabe
administration. Under his stewardship, the newspaper
incurred the wrath of the government of Zimbabwe, which has
accused it of being a mouthpiece for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a charge Nyarota
strongly denies.

4. The Daily News is back on the streets today, printing
for the first time since December 21. Today's paper is
however far shorter than usual (only 12 pages) and has
very little advertising. Today's edition breaks the story
of Nyarota's dismissal and announces a new editorial team
to be lead by John Gambanga, Acting Editor. Nyasha
Nyakunu, has been elevated to the position of News Editor
with immediate effect. Other appointments include Tendayi
Nyakunu as Assistant Editor, Pedzisayi Ruhanya as Deputy
News Editor, and Bill Saidi as Managing Editor. Both
Gambanga (April 1999) and Nyakunu (September 2002) are
former participants in the Department's International
Visitor program.

5. Comment: The "Daily News" is the second of Zimbabwe's
four independent newspapers to undergo an editorial shake-
up in the past six weeks. The highly respected weekly
"Financial Gazette" lost veteran editor Francis Mdlongwa in
late November after a change in ownership of the paper's
parent company. (See reftel for additional details.)
Readers will be watching both the "Daily" and the "Fingaz"
for signals that the either paper's fiercely independent
editorial stance has shifted under new leadership.


WHITEHEAD

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