Shamuyarira scores another victory against Jonathan Moyo!


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Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front secretary for Information Nathan Shamuyarira was reported to have scored another victory against Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, described by the United States embassy as “rabidly anti-Western”, by forcing the ministry to admit 13 British journalists to cover the English cricket team’s tour of Zimbabwe.

The government had barred the journalists from covering the tour but the English team threatened to cancel the tour if they were barred. 

The Information Ministry reversed its decision but announced that the journalists would be permitted to enter the country to cover the matches but “not to meddle in the politics of Zimbabwe”.

Reports said Moyo had been overruled by Shamuyarira to avoid embarrassing the government with a cancellation of the publicised tour.

This was said to be Shamuyarira’s second victory over Moyo after having scored another in May when he allowed Sky News to interview President Robert Mugabe.

This was also viewed as a waning of Moyo’s influence since the Tsholotsho debacle in which he was reported to have been part of the group that tried to block Joice Mujuru from becoming party vice-president.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1963, ZIMBABWE’S CRICKET DIPLOMACY

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1963

2004-12-03 09:29

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

 

030929Z Dec 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001963

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE’S CRICKET DIPLOMACY

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1913 (B) HARARE 1770 (C) HARARE 882

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: A visit by England’s cricket team is

exposing conflicts inside the ruling party and may evidence

further impetus within the GOZ to moderate its anti-Western

posture. The GOZ’s decision to admit 13 originally barred

journalists to cover the tour suggests the waning influence

of Information Jonathan Moyo and coincides with curious

contemplation in the official press of possible rapprochement

with the UK. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) The English cricket team arrived in Zimbabwe November

26 for a ten-day, four match tour. The controversial tour

appeared to be derailed just days before its originally

scheduled commencement November 24 when the team refused to

travel in response to the GOZ’s barring of 13 British

journalists from entering the country to cover the matches.

After reportedly heavy lobbying by the director of the

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the Information

Ministry reversed itself and announced that the journalists

would be permitted to enter the country to cover the matches,

but “not to meddle in the politics of Zimbabwe.” The

journalists reportedly were going to be required to sign

statements upon entry undertaking not to stray from sports

themes in their reporting, but we are unaware that they were

asked to do so or actually did so. Indeed, we understand

that the Sky News crew has been reporting on the ZANU-PF

Party Congress underway this week. The cricket boards

reportedly are continuing to spar over who will bear losses

associated with the cancellation of one match as a result of

the delayed entry.

 

3. (U) Articles in The Independent and the Daily Mirror

portrayed the Ministry’s volte face as a defeat for combative

Information Minister Moyo engineered by ZANU-PF Secretary for

Information Nathan Shamuyarira. According to press reports,

Shamuyarira overruled the Ministry in order to avoid an

embarassing the GOZ with a cancellation of the publicized

tour. The official press reported nothing about the

flip-flopping and announced only that all 78 of the

journalists applying to cover the tour had been accredited.

Focused principally on sports themes, official Zimbabwean

coverage of the tour featured English players’ positive

comments about Zimbabwe and occasionally contrasted this

visit with last year’s tour, which was cancelled over

purported security concerns.

 

4. (U) Much more eyebrow-raising was an unrelated Herald

op-ed piece the same date, “Jack Straw’s handshake turns into

an olive branch,” in which the rabidly anti-Western columnist

Donald Charumbira lays out evidence of purported UK interest

in “burying the hatchet” with the GOZ. Charumbira argues

that the UK has accepted the inevitability of ZANU-PF rule

and needs better relations with all countries, including

Zimbabwe, to advance larger priorities such as Iraq and the

Middle East. He forecasts British attempts at harmonization

but warns that “clandestine machinations” will continue and

that the UK would shift efforts from the MDC to “tackling

ZANU-PF from within.” The ZANU-PF-aligned but unofficial

Daily Mirror published an article on November 24 that gave

prominent play to the British Ambassador’s urging of more

cordial bilateral ties.

 

5. (C) A British diplomat here confirmed to poloff that HMG

did not support the cricket tour but had protested the

barring of the journalists. An unnamed minister in London

had called in the Zimbabwean charge in London and the British

DCM visited working level counterparts at MFA here to express

displeasure and to urge a policy reversal. The British

diplomat attributed the reversal, however, not to the

demarche but to anti-Moyo sentiments within the Government

and Mugabe’s strong desire to have the cricket tour.

Commenting on the Charumbira piece, the diplomat reiterated

that HMG had not changed its Zimbabwe policy at all but that

the new British Ambassador’s more outgoing style might be

“puzzling” the GOZ.

 

COMMENT

——-

6. (C) Shamuyarira’s reported triumph over Moyo, if true,

reprises his successful contest with the mercurial

Information Minister over the admission of a Sky News team to

interview President Mugabe (ref C) in May. It is one of

several indicia that Moyo’s influence finally may be running

out. He is a candidate to be scapegoated over party

divisions and rancor that flowed from a meeting he reportedly

assembled to thwart the Joyce Mujuru Vice-Presidential bid

last month (septel). We are hearing growing rumors that the

President himself, on whose favor Moyo had relied for so

long, is dissatisfied with Moyo’s divisiveness and plans to

sack him from the cabinet after the election. Certainly

there are many in the ruling party who would welcome his

departure from the scene, but predictions of the adept

bureaucratic operator’s imminent political demise now have

proven no more than wishful thinking for more than a year.

 

7. (C) The GOZ’s reversal on the journalists’ accreditation

contrasts with the hard line shown just last month in

deporting the COSATU delegation (ref B) and suggests the

growing ascendancy of more outward oriented elements in the

ruling party. Certainly, the GOZ is being more attentive to

its international image and is trying to convey a sense of

growing normalcy to domestic audiences. We expect the UK

will continue to be the regime’s principal bogeyman through

the elections (ref A), but the Charumbira piece may

foreshadow a softening after that.

DELL

(55 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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