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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.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001166

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS AND AF/S RAYNOR


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO KMDR ZI
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION MASS ACTION IN ZIM; HARARE

1. Weekend editorials concentrated on the five-day
anti-government protests, called by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that
completely shutdown commerce and industry in the
country from June 2 through 6, 2003. Editorial
excerpts follow:

2. Under headline "ZANU-PF digging its own grave" the
independent daily "The Daily News" (06/09) comments:

"Faced with glaring evidence of the people of
Zimbabwe's dissatisfaction with the government,
President Robert Mugabe is maintaining a belligerent
attitude, threatening the opposition and
participants in last week's mass action with
retribution. . .It must be clear even to the ruling
ZANU-PF that such heavy-handedness. . .would again
send the wrong signals to local and foreign
investors. . .We fully appreciate the government's
need to show that it is still in charge following a
mass action that humiliatingly demonstrated that
force alone is keeping the ruling party in power.
But we would urge prudence in the aftermath of last
week's protests, for the good of the nation and
indeed for the government's own good. . .The
government's iron-fisted response to the mass action
and a violent campaign of retribution in the next
few weeks will only harden the people's hearts
against the ruling party, which is clearly playing
into the hands of the opposition's hands. If ZANU-
PF continues to display its lack of maturity, it
will ultimately dig its own grave. . . ."

3. Under headline "Tsvangira's fate: No one above the
law" the government-controlled daily "The Herald" (06/09)
comments:

". . .The arrest of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai for
making treasonous statements will reassure
Zimbabweans that the justice system is alive and
well in the country and the police will not be
intimidated by anyone from carrying out its
constitutional mandate. . .The AG (Attorney-General)
and police should be commended for their boldness in
holding Tsvangirai accountable for his actions. Let
the courts decide whether his actions have been
lawful or not. . .The arrest of Tsvangirai. . .is a
sobering development and a stark reminder that the
law in Zimbabwe is not like a cobweb, which may
catch small flies but will let wasps and hornets
break through. No one is above the law."

4. Under headline "Admit you are finished" the
independent weekly "The Daily News on Sunday" (06/08)
comments:

". . .Still, from the intensity of the panic with
which the government reacted to the mass
action. . .one thing is clear: Mugabe must admit
that politically he is finished. No longer can he
stand up and brazenly claim that the people are
behind him. No. The people are not behind him any
more. They are not even frightened of him or his
savage security machinery any more. They are
thoroughly fed up with his misrule and are praying
the he will exit the scene while he can still do it
with a modicum of dignity and self-respect. If
Mugabe and ZANU-PF dismiss the mass action as a
flush in the pan and hope that people will start to
sing Mugabe's and ZANU-PF's praises this week, then
the country is headed for a very long period of
instability. If Mugabe does not acknowledge that
only through a sincere dialogue with the MDC can the
country return to a semblance of the political and
economic normalcy before 2000, then he is throwing
down the gauntlet and daring the people: what else
can you do to me? The answer to that defiance may
be to ghastly to contemplate:"

5. Under headline "Confront the real issues Mr. Mugabe:
The real threat to your power base Mr. President is
not Tsvangirai but the people of Zimbabwe" the
independent weekly "The Standard" (06/08) comments:

". . .As long as the country's economy remains in
intensive care, your own position will remain
vulnerable. This is the crux of the matter. You
can delude yourself by dismissing the protests as a
flop but is this the real issue? The real issue,
Mr. President, is that the people of Zimbabwe are
completely dissatisfied and disillusioned with the
state of affairs in the country. Tsvangirai has won
the hearts and minds of the Zimbabweans because of
this dissatisfaction and disillusionment - pure and
simple. . .President Mugabe and the ruling party
must neither underrate the mood of the people or
their power to change things. As long as
Zimbabweans continue to suffer the way they are
doing, the challenge and threat to the President's
power base remains. And it will be arrogant and
nave in the extreme for the government and its
media to gloat that they have scored an immense
propaganda victory over Morgan Tsvangirai and the
MDC. . . ."

6. Under headline "Dialogue must resume" the
pro-government weekly the "Sunday Mirror" (06/08)
comments:

". . .While the nation is evidently politically
polarized, it is an understatement to say the
Zimbabweans are united in their hope for a swift
improvement in the political and economic condition
they find their country in. . .These facts in
themselves create an adequate basis for engagement
between the two parties (ZANU-PF and MDC). Any
further procrastination on this fundamental issue is
definitely not in the national interest. For, the
damage to the already tottering economy and the
increasingly violent political culture that is
emerging in this country do not bode well for the
nation."

7. Under headline "Corporates supping with the devil" the
government-controlled weekly "The Sunday Mail" (06/08)
comments:

". . .It is clear that the week-long stayaway was
successful in terms of business shutdown and not
mass action or demonstrations. The question that
then comes to mind is why business chose to become
so partisan in an environment where there are two
contesting political forces. What they did amounted
to advocating a violent overthrow of a government
that they tomorrow will be expecting to work with
and calling on to create an environment in which
they can prosper. This is a sign of treacherous
naivet that will only result in a souring of
relations with the very political force that
controls their destiny. . . ."

8. Under headline "Tsvangirai loses legitimacy to lead
party" the government-controlled daily "The Herald"
(06/07) comments:

"MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has lost all
legitimacy to lead the opposition party, having
failed to deliver on all political promises he made
to his supporters over the past three
years. . .Tsvangirai can give all the explanation he
wants to justify why no one seriously observed his
call for mass marches, but the bottom line is that
he failed to unseat the government of President
Mugabe. . . ."

SULLIVAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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