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Cablegate: Mozambican Media Faults Weak Civil Society for Lack Of

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTO #0669 2031237
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211237Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9122
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000669

AF/S FOR MSHIELDS
AF/PD FOR CANYASO AND KJAKSA

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KMDR PREL PGOV MZ ZI
SUBJECT: MOZAMBICAN MEDIA FAULTS WEAK CIVIL SOCIETY FOR LACK OF
COMMENT ON ZIMBABWE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Charge hosted a lunch on July 17 for six top
independent media editors, at which discussion of Zimbabwe
dominated. The editors expressed disappointment with the Government
of Mozambique's (GRM) silence on the issue, in part a symptom of
weak civil society organizations in the country. The Charge
reiterated to the editors his statement to the GRM that Zimbabwe's
neighbors have a responsibility to speak out, and that keeping quiet
is damaging Mozambique's international reputation. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) During the Charge's lunch with six top independent media
editors in Mozambique on July 17, conversation on Zimbabwe
dominated. The editors, representing six different private media
outlets in Mozambique - TV, Radio and Print - expressed frustration
with the situation in Zimbabwe and the lack of response from their
government. While the party of the President, FRELIMO, issued an
official letter of congratulations to Mugabe and ZANU-PF after the
June elections (not released to the media as per custom but
discovered by journalists and then widely covered here), President
Guebuza himself has not made such a public proclamation. Still,
most editors attribute Guebuza's presence at the recent African
Union summit and his continued relations with the ZANU-PF Ambassador
here as a clear sign that FRELIMO support translates into GRM
support.

3. (U) The Charge reiterated his message to the GRM with the
editors present: Neighboring African states have a responsibility
to speak out on the crisis in Zimbabwe, and as of now, Mozambique is
"on the wrong side [of history]." The Charge told editors that
Mozambique's international reputation, with the United States and
others, is slipping each day the silence continues.

4. (SBU) The editors responded that the independent media has been
vocal and continues to speak out against Mugabe's rule but that
civil society remains largely silent for a number of reasons: Its
own weak nature, due to a lack of civic education in schools; a
dearth of institutions that represent civil society in Mozambique;
and the largely-held fear of being reprimanded or punished by the
GRM. One editor noted that if the GRM spoke out against Mugabe, then
civil society would follow suit - but until then will remain quiet.
One media representative stated that the cancellation of a
recently-planned public demonstration against violence in Zimbabwe
exemplified Mozambican civil society's weakness.

5. (SBU) The group of editors unanimously expressed great
pessimism over Zimbabwe and its effects on Mozambique. They agreed
that the situation in Zimbabwe will worsen and that Mozambique, in
particular its central region that borders Zimbabwe, will pay a
severe price.

6. (U) As Mozambique prepares for its own elections - municipal on
November 19 and presidential in 2009 - Zimbabwe will be an issue on
Mozambicans' minds, if not from their mouths. The editor of the
weekly newspaper Zambeze (distribution 20,000; readership 100,000)
titled his July 17 editorial "The Mugab-ization of Mozambique"
writing that today's climate in Mozambique is not much different
than the climate here just before its civil war.

7. (SBU) Post will remain engaged with the independent media here,
as they represent the strongest voice in Mozambique speaking out on
Zimbabwe.


CHAPMAN

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