Cablegate: Goz Shuts Down Another Newspaper, Commences
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000988
STATE FOR AF/PDPA/DALTON AND FOR AF/S/MRAYNOR
NSC FOR AFRICA DIRECTOR D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPAO PHUM EINV ZI
SUBJECT: GOZ SHUTS DOWN ANOTHER NEWSPAPER, COMMENCES
PROSECUTION OF ANZ DIRECTORS
REF: HARARE 409 and previous
1. (U) SUMMARY: The Media and Information Commission (MIC)
on June 10 cancelled the registration of The Tribune
newspaper (owned by a ruling party MP), purportedly over
violations of the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA). The GOZ on June 9 commenced its
prosecution of the directors of the parent company of the
two other newspapers closed by the GOZ in September.
Tribune Closed Down
2. (U) Prior to its shut-down by the state-appointed MIC,
The Tribune was an independent weekly owned by a ruling
party legislator, Mr. Kindness Paradza. It reportedly will
remain closed for a year after the MIC accused the paper of
changing its title, print, and ownership without the
knowledge of the regulatory body. Enfeebled by under
capitalization and poor advertising revenues, the
newspaper's publishers - a consortium of indigenous
businessmen - have vowed to challenge the closure in court.
3. (U) The Tribune was launched on June 1, 2002,
publishing a business edition on Thursdays and a general
edition on Fridays. It merged the two into a weekly that
had published articles critical of GOZ human rights abuses
and corruption while espousing socialist, redistributive
4. (U) In his maiden speech in Parliament, Paradza had
raised eyebrows by blasting AIPPA and GOZ media policies in
tones uncharacteristically harsh for a ruling party MP.
Earlier this year, he traveled to the United Kingdom,
ostensibly to raise financial backers for his newspaper.
5. (U) In its June 12 front page article headlined "Expel
Paradza", the state-controlled Herald reported on a
provincial disciplinary committee's recommendations for
Paradza's expulsion from the party. The committee
reportedly charged, among other things, that Paradza had
worked with the ANZ press and conducted interviews with
(VOA-produced) Studio 7, a critical radio station that
broadcasts negatively against the party and Government of
Zimbabwe." The committee alleged further that he had been
disrespectful of the party, the President, and Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo, and had been critical of GOZ
policy, notably AIPPA. In addition, he had "established a
trail of destablization by fanning disunity, demonizing
leaders, and provoking youths to riot against leaders."
Provincial party chairman Philip Chiyangwa reportedly
declared that he was already preparing to select candidates
to replace Paradza in a by-election.
6. (U) Two media watchdogs, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) and the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe (MMPZ), jointly condemned "the cynical and
unconstitutional" closure of the "Tribune" newspaper,
calling it an "onslaught against free expression." The
condemnation summed up: "Instead of helping to secure the
development of the media and promoting the free flow of
information, MIC is busy curtailing any critical discourse
in the media industry. MISA and MMPZ view the closure of
the paper as a vindictive and premeditated decision to shut
alternative voices in the Zimbabwe media industry ahead of
next year's parliamentary elections."
Daily News Directors' AIPPA Trial Underway
7. (U) The Tribune becomes the third independent newspaper
to be banned within a year. Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe's (ANZ) The "Daily News" and its sister weekly
"The Daily News on Sunday" were forcibly shut down last
September by a police raid. The raid took place one day
after the Supreme Court, observing that the publications
had yet to register under AIPPA, declined to rule on the
newspapers' claim that AIPPA was unconstitutional.
8. (U) The trial of ANZ and its four directors over
alleged violations of AIPPA and contempt of court commenced
on June 9. The case stems from the publication of an issue
of The Daily News in October following an Administrative
Court decision in ANZ's favor. The MIC asserted that the
decision would only have permitted publication after
November 30, when the decision said ANZ's registration
would be deemed effective if the MIC failed to register it.
9. (SBU) ANZ counsel told poloff on June 14 that the court
has adjourned and is not scheduled to reconvene on the case
until July 12. She reported that the prosecution was
"winging it" and had yet to submit a full list of
witnesses. She noted that the individual defendants each
faced a fine of USD 56 and/or up to two years in prison.
10. (SBU) The GOZ's no-holds-barred war against all
independent information sources shows no signs of abating.
Paradza's demonization demonstrates once again that the
ruling party often is harder on critics inside its family
than on those outside. It further underscores the hazards
of fraternization with the enemy: Paradza was publicly
fingered as a party enemy not after criticizing AIPPA
(other ZANU-PF members had as well) but after traveling to
the UK. Finally, Paradza's straits underscore the
continuing dominance of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo,
who increasingly is targeting ruling party colleagues and
fueling witch-hunt atmospherics within the party.
Chiyangwa's action against Paradza is both ironic and
instructive on the ephemeral nature of success and failure
within the party: he has been relatively rehabilitated
(albeit chastened) after spending weeks in jail as the
first victim of the GOZ's ongoing corruption campaign.