Cablegate: Media Reaction Mass Action in Zim; Harare

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. While editorials in the independent newspapers are in
favor of the proposed week-long mass protests that are
expected to begin in Zimbabwe today (June 2), called by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to force
Robert Mugabe to enter into a serious and genuine dialogue
with the MDC to break the political and economic impasse
gripping the country, the government-controlled print and
electronic media is devoting acres of editorial space and
airtime to calling for the arrest of the entire MDC
leadership, and discouraging the people of Zimbabwe from
participating in the marches and demonstrations. Editorial
excerpts follow:

2. Under headline "The price of inertia" the independent
daily "The Daily News" (06/02) comments:

"Today the MDC party begins a week of mass
demonstrations. . .MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
his party may or may not succeed in this onerous
task they have set themselves. But that the
Zimbabwe crisis must now be resolved in the streets
and possibly with innocent blood being shed in the
process is a sad indictment against those to whom
ordinary Zimbabweans and indeed millions of ordinary
Africans look up to for leadership. It would be an
indictment against Mugabe personally if Zimbabwe
burns in the days ahead. . .We can only hope that
the events of this week will be clear enough to
Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi that they should stop
shielding Mugabe. And that instead they should
convey the message that Zimbabweans by coming out
into the streets are trying to put across to him and
that is: for all the good he may have done for this
country in the past he must step down in order to
give this country a chance to start afresh and move

3. Under headline "Tsvangirai must pay for his sins" the
government-controlled daily "The Herald" (06/02) comments:

"The time has now come for opposition MDC leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, to pay the price for his sins
against the people of Zimbabwe and to show him that,
like everyone else, he is not above the law. . .His
unprecedented backing by the United States, Britain,
some members of the European Union and the white
Commonwealth has made him feel invincible and that
no one can touch him no matter how many laws he
breaks and how much suffering he has brought to bear
on the people of Zimbabwe. . .Until his case is
finalized, the MDC leader must be put into
protective custody so that he does not further
endanger the lives of innocent people who might be
caught up in the crossfire of his reckless
actions. . .It is now time to act and reassure
Zimbabweans that everyone is equal before the law. .
. ."

4. Under headline "Enough is enough" a front-page
editorial in the government-controlled "Chronicle"
(06/02) comments:

"The High Court on Saturday outlawed MDC's planned
mass action to oust President Mugabe's
democratically elected government from power. . .If
Tsvangirai and his thugs dare defy this lawful
order, then they should face the full wrath of the
law. . .We demand that police should move with speed
and arrest the confused opposition leader and his
cronies and throw the keys into the sea. Enough is
enough. . .We cannot tolerate lawlessness in the
country because the perpetrator is backed by some
foreign power that will condemn us for doing what is
right. Let the British and the Americans who have
openly supported Tsvangirai's illegal statement and
actions say whatever they want. We cannot be
bullied into allowing lawlessness because we are
afraid of cowboys and gay gangsters. . .We demand
that any and all that dare soil our streets with
misguided marches must be thrown behind bars. And
we urge the courts to throw the full book at any one
who will be arrested. . .We urge members of the
public to show charlatans like Tsvangirai that they
cherish the peace and tranquility by going about
their business normally this entire week. . . ."

5. Under headline "Road map for Zimbabwe" the independent
weekly "The Daily News on Sunday" (06/02) comments:

". . .The government would be well-advised to let
the march proceeds uninterrupted, unless there is
clear evidence of violence. Interfering with such a
road map could lead to a political dead-end for the

6. In a front-page editorial under headline "Do or Die"
the independent weekly "The Standard" (06/01)

"The week we have just begun could mark a turning
point in the 23-year history of independent Zimbabwe
as ordinary citizens make the choice between the
status quo and a new political dispensation. It is
a sad indictment those who have enjoyed the
privilege of leading this country over the past 23
years that today, a once prosperous beacon of hope
in Africa, has been reduced to another basket case
in a much maligned continent. . .As Zimbabweans
either march in their cities and towns or simply
stay at home, it will not necessarily be about the
removing the de facto President and the government
from power but to say `Enough is Enough.' The tide
of feeling about the tragedy that has gripped the
country is running very high and this could be the
opportunity for Zimbabweans to shake off a label now
being bandied around - that we are a docile
people. . . ."

7. Under headline "The fire this time" a second editorial
published on page 8 in the same edition comments:

". . .This week's demonstrations are not the sort
that split society and families. Zimbabweans of all
races and creeds fully support these peaceful
marches and want to be fully involved in them and if
uniformed forces try to mow down the marchers, they
will be forgiven. Be that as it may, Zimbabweans
this week will prove equal to the challenge. The
demonstrations this time appear to usher a new

8. Under headline "Defining moment for Zimbabweans" the
government-controlled weekly "The Sunday Mail"
(06/01) comments:

"We are praying and hoping that reason will prevail
and Zimbabweans will not be mislead into backing the
maneuvers by the opposition MDC to attempt to remove
a constitutionally elected President by force. This
is a defining moment, not in the sense in which the
opposition would want it to be, but in the sense
that Zimbabweans have an opportunity to demonstrate
their political maturity, and uphold the rule of
law. . .Taking matters into their own hands would be
foolish, as it would at best achieve nothing and at
worst set the country up in flames. While many
would have views about how the political question
should be resolved, we believe they should give the
African mediators an opportunity to find common
grounds around which national dialogue and hopefully
national consensus could be built. . . ."


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