Cablegate: Media Report Voa's Studio 7 Under Heavy Fire

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

REF: (A) HARARE 001536 (B) HARARE 002017 (C)
HARARE 002170

1. Voice of America's (VOA) Studio 7 program on Zimbabwe
made the hub of the lead story carried in the November 23
edition of the government-controlled weekly "The Sunday
Mail" (circulation 55 - 70,000), in which the United States
Government is slammed for allegedly setting up a
transmitter in Botswana in order to broadcast "anti-
Zimbabwe propaganda" and "demonizing the country" ahead of
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) in
Abuja, Nigeria next month. The propaganda article by the
paper's political editor, Munyaradzi Huni, comes hard on
the heels of a successful visit to Zimbabwe by Botswana's
Foreign Minister Retired Lt. Gen. Marahfe Mompati. The
article inadvertently ended up being a Studio 7 advertorial
piece, announcing the existence of the station, the
frequency, and time of broadcast. Excerpts of the article,
printed under headline "U. S. sets up anti-Zim radio in
Botswana," follow:

2. "The U. S. has set up a medium wave radio transmitter
that is allegedly broadcasting anti-Zimbabwe propaganda
from a site called Selebe Pikwe in Botswana, a move that
could raise tension between the two neighboring countries,
investigations have revealed. The hostile broadcasts being
beamed from the VOA transmitter are aimed at demonizing the
country ahead of the CHOGM set for Abuja, Nigeria, early
next month. . .Sources close to the operations of
Transmedia, a company tasked with managing the country's
mass-market public broadcasting infrastructure, said the
hostile broadcasts were (being) received in Matabeleland
North and Midlands provinces. `Reception is clearer
especially at night as the coverage area increases. We
believe this is being broadcast from the VOA transmitter in
Botswana on frequency 909 Khz at a site called Selebe
Pikwe. We have come up with this conclusion because
transmission from medium wave is mostly local and hence can
only be done from the vicinity of the country," said the
source. It is understood that VOA, which usually transmits
on short wave, is giving Studio 7 a slot for broadcasting
during the evening around 7 PM (local time) in the evening.

3. ". . .Recently the Minister of State for Information
and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said there
was a transmitter transmitting hostile propaganda
from a neighboring country but he did not name the
country. These new revelations are set to raise
tension between Zimbabwe and Botswana as in the past
there have been allegations that Botswana has a U.
S. military airbase near the Kalahari Desert.
Botswana has denied the allegations. . .The
situation is made worse considering the revelations
earlier this year by the outgoing U. S. Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs Mr. Walter
Kansteiner who said his government was working with
Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique to topple
President Mugabe and his government from power. .
.All three countries denied the allegations but some
diplomats in Harare and some ZANU PF top officials
urged the government to `dig deep' into the matter
as `there is no smoke without fire.' Also earlier
this year, Mr. Kansteiner was in Botswana where he
had a lengthy stay after holding meetings with that
country's leader Festus Mogae. . .His visit to
Botswana was immediately followed by the visit by U.
S. President George W. Bush who also met that
country's leadership. Diplomatic sources who spoke
on conditions of anonymity said the visits by the U.
S. officials could have `given birth and saw the
growth of Studio 7.'

4. "It is understood that Studio 7 has secretly recruited
journalists from both the public and private media who are
filing stories using pseudo names. Government sources say
the security net is fast closing in on them and those found
`moonlighting' for the station would be `dealt with

5. (SBU) COMMENT: From the moment VOA's Studio 7 hit
the airwaves, the government of Zimbabwe, through
the office of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo,
has relentlessly attacked the United States
Government for "toughening its hostility towards
Zimbabwe" by "churning out propaganda about regime
change" through Studio 7. Moyo amplified this
scathing attack on the U. S. on July 29 when he met
an Iranian delegation, in the country to revamp the
television and frequency modulation (FM) network for
the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC). "The U. S. Government was sowing seeds of
division among people in rural areas using a radio
station known as Studio 7. . .Where we celebrate our
own culture, the idea of a superpower imposing its
will on the rest of the world is totally
unacceptable," Moyo is quoted saying. Last October,
Moyo was also heavily quoted in the independent
newspapers as saying "Studio 7 will die. It faces
death. They think we are sleeping, we want to see
where they are going with Studio 7." This threat
came immediately after the closure of Zimbabwe's
first independent daily "The Daily News" on
September 12.

With such a cheerless backdrop, the lead article in
the November 23 edition of the government-controlled
weekly "The Sunday Mail" is no surprise. It is
almost certainly a planted story generated by
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, according to our
contact at the newspaper. We believe that this is
the first shot in a propaganda salvo aimed as
pressuring the Government of Botswana over what Moyo
views as anti-regime propaganda emanating from
across the border. While Moyo is something of a one-
man show in attacking any source of information on
Zimbabwe that he can/does not control, it is
probably that higher-ups in the GOZ have approved
Moyo's effort to intimidate the Government of
Botswana. (The article appears in the same edition
as an article by the same Mr. Huni castigating
Nigerian President Obasanjo for being influenced by
the "white Commonwealth members to not invite
President Mugabe to the Commonwealth CHOGM session
in Abuja. Le it not be said that Moyo confines his
bluster and bullying tactics to Zimbabweans, the
U.S. and the U.K.)


© Scoop Media

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