Cablegate: Media Reaction President Bush's Visit to Africa;

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

110943Z Jul 03




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. There has been an outpouring of articles, op-ed and
opinion pieces in the mainstream newspapers
following talks on Zimbabwe between President George
W. Bush and his South African counterpart Thabo
Mbeki, including President Bush's visit to Botswana,
in the leading newspapers published on July 11.
Excerpts of the articles follow:

2. Under headline "Bush's statement a shift in U. S.
policy? the government-controlled daily "Chronicle"
(07/11) carried the following op-ed by Kennedy
Mavhumasha on page 4:

"United States President, George W. Bush this week
performed a quick climb-down from his earlier anti-
Zimbabwe rhetoric, but analysts say he must now
match his public statements with practical measures
to normalize diplomatic relations with Harare. .
.But political analysts interviewed. . .yesterday
were quick to point out that the government should
give it time, as the U. S. President's words might
fail to translate into a shift in his country's
policy towards Zimbabwe. . .Dr. Godfrey Chikowore, a
University of Zimbabwe international relations
lecturer said: `The change is welcome but we want to
see if the statement was one of principle and not
just a matter of buying time. . .It will be unwise
for us to bank on statements and promises. Let us
give him time. . .' A lecturer at the National
University of Science and Technology, Dr. Lawton
Hikwa, said: `It is difficult to say at the moment
but there is a significant appreciation that
whatever Mr. Bush has heard about the situation here
was exaggerated. Perhaps as time goes on, we could
see some objectivity. . . .'"

3. Under headline "Visit gives Bush rude awakening" the
government-controlled daily "The Herald" (07/11)
carried the following analysis by Lovemore Mataire
on page 9:

"United States President Mr. George W. Bush's image
making visit to Africa suffered a major setback when
he openly expressed confidence in South African
President Mr. Thabo Mbeki's mediation in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Bush's statements were in sharp contrast to his
and that of his Secretary of State Mr. Collin (sic)
Powell's earlier statements urging South Africa to
exert more pressure on Zimbabwe to have a
transitional arrangement in place. . .Mr. Bush's
endorsement of Mr. Mbeki as an `honest broker' in
Zimbabwe fell short of admitting that he had been
misled about the real situation prevailing in the
country. . .Cautious of not treading on unpopular
track, Mr. Bush found himself with no option but to
back down from his previous hard-line stance towards
President Mugabe. . .But Mr. Bush's public support
for Mbeki's Zimbabwe policy appeared to mark a
personal defeat for (Morgan) Tsvangirai (MDC
leader), who has criticized the South African leader
for `choosing to be in solidarity with a
dictator. . . .'"

4. Under headline "Where will Tsvangirai turn to now?"
the independent daily "The Daily News" (07/11) carried the
following opinion piece by Kuthula Matshazi, who is based
in Toronto, Canada, on page 10:

"South African President Thabo Mbeki's words are
coming back to haunt us. The resolution of
Zimbabwe's problems lies squarely with Zimbabweans.
United States President George W. Bush implicitly
endorsed this view when he met with Mbeki on
Wednesday in South Africa. . .Where will Tsvangirai
turn to now that Bush has embraced Mbeki's position?
In other words, Bush has told Tsvangirai to deal
with Mbeki. . . ."

5. Under headline "MDC leader bows to Uncle Sam's might"
the government-controlled daily "Chronicle" (07/11) carried
the following article on page one:

"Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was
yesterday forced to withdraw `angry' remarks he made
against President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa after
the United States endorsed Pretoria's quiet
diplomacy on Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai. . .back-tracked
on his earlier outburst in which he accused Mbeki of
being `mischievous' and trying to `buy time' for the
Zimbabwe government. His climb-down came following
the announcement by President George W. Bush that
the U. S. was now of `one mind' with South Africa
and would leave Mbeki the task of helping resolve
Zimbabwe's challenges. . . ."

6. Under headline "Botswana backs Zim: `. . .no need for
outsiders to interfere in Zimbabwe's problem's'" the lead
article in the government-controlled daily "The Herald"
(07.11) reads:

"Botswana sees no need for outsiders to interfere in
the problems affecting Zimbabwe. Minister of
Foreign Affairs Mr. Mombati Merafe said soon after
the meeting between President George Bush. . .and
President Festus Mogae of Botswana that Zimbabwe was
a sovereign state with a government which came into
place through a legitimate process adding that the
situation in the country required persuasion and
that no one should dictate what should be done. Mr.
Merafe stressed that the position of Zimbabwe has
not changed and the visit by the U. S. President to
Botswana and the region in general would not change,
alter or influence the cordial bilateral relations
between Zimbabwe and Botswana. The U. S. President
yesterday expressed satisfaction and concurred with
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa's policy of
quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe. . . ."


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