Tribune shut down


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The Media and Information Commission on 10 June 2004 cancelled the registration of The Tribune purportedly for changing its title, print, and ownership without the knowledge of the regulatory body.

The paper, owned by ZANU-PF legislator Kindness Paradza, was already enfeebled by under capitalisation and poor advertising revenues.

Paradza was also accused of being disrespectful of the party, the President, and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

In addition, he had “established a trail of destabilization by fanning disunity, demonizing leaders, and provoking youths to riot against leaders”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE988, GOZ SHUTS DOWN ANOTHER NEWSPAPER, COMMENCES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE988

2004-06-14 14:32

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000988

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

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

economic policies.

 

4. (U) In his maiden speech in Parliament, Paradza had

raised eyebrows by blasting AIPPA and GOZ media policies in

n

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.

 

 

Comment

——-

 

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.

(46 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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