United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald told Foreign Affairs official Jonathan Wutawunashe that the Daily News had fabricated a story about his meeting with the Bulawayo-based Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube on 21 September 2000.
The paper had reported that McDonald had met the archbishop to lobby him to use his influence to persuade the Southern African Development Community to accept the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill- which was aimed at imposing sanctions on the country and its leadership.
McDonald said he met with Wutawunashe for half an hour at his request. Wutawunashe wanted to know whether the Daily News story was correct.
The ambassador said the story was not correct and the reporter was unprofessional. The subject of ZIDERA was not raised but he refused to say what he discussed with the archbishop.
Viewing cable 00HARARE5362, MFA INQUIRES ABOUT AMBASSADOR’S CALL ON
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
251505Z Sep 00
PAGE 01 HARARE 05362 251504Z
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 A-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 VC-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 LAB-01
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 PA-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00
TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /008W
——————898806 251504Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7181
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 005362
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/10
SUBJECT: MFA INQUIRES ABOUT AMBASSADOR’S CALL ON
BULAWAYO’S CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD FOR REASONS 1.5
¶1. (C) AMBASSADOR MCDONALD MET FOR HALF AN HOUR WITH
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE
AND THE AMERICAS JONATHAN WUTAWUNASHE AT THE LATTER’S
PAGE 02 HARARE 05362 251504Z
REQUEST SEPTEMBER 25. WUTAWUNASHE GOT TO THE POINT
QUICKLY, ASKING WHETHER “THE DAILY NEWS” HAD STATED
CORRECTLY THE OBJECT OF THE AMBASSADOR’S VISIT TO PIUS
NCUBE, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BULAWAYO, ON
SEPTEMBER 21. THE ARTICLE STATED THAT “MCDONALD’S VISIT
WAS TO LOBBY NCUBE TO USE HIS INFLUENCE TO PERSUADE THE
REGION TO ACCEPT THE BILL (ZIMBABWE DEMOCRACY ACT).”
¶2. (C) AMBASSADOR MCDONALD RESPONDED THAT THE NEWSPAPER
ARTICLE’S ACCOUNT WAS “NOT CORRECT, AND THAT THE
REPORTER WAS UNPROFESSIONAL.” THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT
HE HAD MET WITH THE ARCHBISHOP, BUT THE SUBJECT OF THE
ZIMBABWE DEMOCRACY ACT WAS NOT RAISED. HOWEVER, HE
WOULD NOT DIVULGE WHAT WAS THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PRIVATE
CONVERSATION. THE AMBASSADOR WENT ON TO STATE THAT THE
GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE SHOULD NOT LET ITSELF BE SEIZED
BY ITS OWN PARANOIA, BUT RATHER TAKE TO HEART THE BILL’S
¶3. (C) COMMENT: “THE DAILY NEWS'” FABRICATED ARTICLE
THAT APPEARED ON SEPTEMBER 25, WAS CUT FROM WHOLE CLOTH.
THE REPORTER RECEIVED NO INFORMATION EITHER FROM
OURSELVES OR THE ARCHBISHOP. IF SOMEONE IN THE
ARCHBISHOP’S OFFICE TIPPED OFF THE PRESS TO THE
AMBASSADOR’S CALL IN ORDER TO HELP THE ARCHBISHOP, WHO
HAS RECEIVED A NUMBER OF DEATH THREATS, HE OR SHE DID
THE WRONG THING. THE FACT THAT THE AMBASSADOR WAS
QUESTIONED ABOUT THIS ARTICLE SHOWS THAT THE ZIMBABWE
GOVERNMENT’S PARANOIA IS IN OVERDRIVE. WE DO NOT INTEND
TO PUBLICIZE THIS MATTER FURTHER, BUT WILL REGISTER OUR
UNHAPPINESS ABOUT THE STORY WITH THE NEWSPAPER’S
PAGE 03 HARARE 05362 251504Z
MANAGING EDITOR. END COMMENT.