Zimbabwe Zimbabwe flag. Click to return to the home page. Crisis

Home | ZimCrisis#99 -- Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Report

Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 13:47:21 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#99 -- Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Report

Monday 3 July to Sunday 9 July 2000


The week opened with reports of the army cracking heads in Harare's high- density suburbs - and ended with the police firing tear gas onto the packed terraces of the National Sports Stadium during a World Cup soccer match against South Africa, sparking the worst tragedy in Zimbabwe's sporting history. But the nation had to wait until 9 pm before ZBC told them the full extent of the disaster. Other incidents of pre and post-election violence around the country were reported in the Press but ignored by ZBC.

The land issue featured in the state-controlled media, with ZBC quoting war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi as saying that "we would start giving land to those people on the farms." while The Herald reported that commercial farmers were offering 400 more farms for resettlement to add to the 200 offered previously. The Daily News reported a new wave of farm invasions.

The media was characterized by post-election political developments - or the lack of them - in the week under review with The Daily News reporting the MDC's decision to challenge the results of eight more constituencies and a call by its leader to impeach the President. In its report on Joshua Nkomo' s memorial service, Zimpapers reported President Mugabe's address in which he accused the Church of fanning the flames of division following the massive vote in Matabeleland against the ruling party. It also reported that the President had admitted the killing of thousands of people in Matabeleland in the 1980s was "an act of madness". The Daily News chose to concentrate on the President's alleged threat to boycott the service if it was officiated by outspoken Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube. The Herald even reported that new ZANU PF MPs had ridiculed their less fortunate seniors at a party caucus meeting.

ZBC television continued to snipe at the MDC. It quoted reports of a power struggle within the party from "a weekly newspaper, The People's Voice" but didn't tell its audiences that it belonged to the ruling party. Television and radio news bulletins also quoted The Zimbabwe Mirror's (7/7) lead story about the source and amount of the MDC's campaign funds and used it as an opportunity to interview a "political analyst", Jonathan Moyo, who said it confirmed allegations the party was a front for racist colonial forces.

The post-election period has been characterized by mixed coverage on the part of the ZBC electronic media. On one hand the period has seen a decrease in the number of political stories in which ZANU PF's opinion was sought, dropping from an unprecedented 90 percent in the pre-election period, to an average of 35 percent in the week under review. On the other hand, ZBC continues to use its broadcasts to promote the ruling party

In the week under review the alternative and professional voices on post-election issues were high, totaling 39 percent, 26 percent and 41 percent on Radio 2/4, television and Radio 1/3 respectively. The MDC opinion was typically low, at 18 percent, seven percent and nine percent on television, Radio 2/4 and Radio 1/3 respectively, while the remaining opposition was given seven percent, 10 percent and no voice on the same stations on television, Radio 2/4 and Radio 1/3 respectively.


Both The Daily News and the Zimpapers' dailies (3 July) reported that special units of the police and army, deployed into "trouble spots" in several of Harare's high density suburbs - and in Kwekwe - to stamp out post election violence, had beaten up civilians. The Daily News story, Army, Police unleash wave of terror, reported that soldiers and Support Unit policemen had raided bars and nightclubs in Mabvuku and assaulted patrons without provocation, and had also attacked MDC supporters in Dzivarasekwa, including the new MDC MP for the suburb, Edison Mushoriwa. The Herald explained that the Dzivarasekwa incident was the result of an MDC celebration that had been banned by the police. There wasn't any indication of violence at the event, but The Herald quoted a police spokesman as saying: "What we are doing is discouraging any party from having any demonstrations due to the volatility in the suburbs." The police and army were acting within their legal limits, he said. But the paper did not ask why the ZNA had been deployed in civilian areas when the situation did not warrant such drastic measures. Only in The Daily News was there any explanation for the army's presence: The army had been "invited" by the police for an operation to maintain peace after the election, a ZNA spokesman was quoted as saying. The Daily News report, which was accompanied by pictures of victims and contained their stories, also quoted the police spokesman as saying: "It is unfair for those people to say they are being harassed when the police and army are trying to secure their protection." In The Herald the same spokesman said the army and police had been deployed following earlier outbreaks of violence in which ZANU PF supporters had been beaten up by MDC youths. He wasn't asked why the police thought they were unable to cope with the situation. Nor did the paper quote any of the victims or ask why innocent civilians were being brutalized. In a follow-up, The Herald (5/7) splashed a story claiming that local human rights organization, Zimrights , had hailed the police and army blitz on political violence. Stating that "over 15 people have had to receive medical attention after clashes with the army and police in Mabvuku, Dzivarasekwa, Mbare, Chitungwiza and Kwekwe." The Herald quoted Zimrights chairman, Nicholas Ndebele, as saying: "This operation is very commendable because it has ensured that the country maintains its peace and stability because civil strife would have occurred." The paper didn't ask him what he thought the army assaults constituted. Picking this up in its issue of July 7th, The Daily News reported that Ndebele faced a vote of no confidence from the organization's regional councils following his comments. It reported Ndebele as saying he had been misquoted. The Zimbabwe Mirror quoted police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena saying that post- election violence was a result of politicians who failed to seek police protection during their meetings.

The Daily News continued to report pre-and post-election violence throughout the week. It covered the burial of the MDC's Kwekwe branch chairman (3/7) who died days after allegedly being assaulted by war veterans. In the same issue it reported the death of another MDC supporter, this time from Gokwe, quoting a police spokesman as saying his was the last politically motivated death to be reported to the police. Another story in the same issue, reported post-election clashes between ruling party and MDC supporters in Kariba. The following day the paper reported that 15 people occupying Texas Ranch in Mberengwa had been arrested in connection with politically motivated pre-election violence and followed this up (7/7) with a report that 10 ZANU PF supporters had appeared in court in Zvishavane. The daily also reported (5/7) a Zimrights spokesman as saying 16 people had fled their homes in rural Mashonaland East as war veterans and ZANU PF militias continue their raids on opposition supporters. The Dispatch also featured a number of stories relating to political violence, including the fact that an MDC polling agent who was allegedly abducted from his home on June 19 by war veterans, was still missing. The paper reported MDC's Youth League president Dominic Sithole saying:

We supplied the police with all the necessary information, and even gave them the names of the suspects, but they have not arrested anyone.

The Sunday News (July 9) article headlined "Abducted agent still missing", quoted the police saying that Patrick Nabanyama was still missing and investigations were continuing. The article also reported that the Nketa district war vets' chairman, had received death threats over Nabanyama's disappearance. The Dispatch reported that four members of the MDC had claimed they had been abducted and tortured by ZANU PF supporters at the house of an unnamed senior ZANU PF official. The article quoted one of the victims, accompanied by a front-page picture, showing his back injuries. Another story in The Dispatch claimed that ZANU PF youths in Mataga, Mberengwa who had terrorized civilians and members of the opposition, had turned against their masters because they had not been paid for their services. The youths claimed they had been promised jobs and $7000 each by a ZANU PF Midlands Youth wing member who had since disappeared: "He promised us money and jobs in the National Army but we have got nothing. We brutalized the very community we live in," one of the youths was reported as saying. The Herald (4/7) reported that six MDC supporters appeared in court on charges of public violence, a story carried by its competitor the following day. In its July 6th issue, The Herald reported that the police were looking for the new MDC MP for Mabvuku to question him in connection with attempted murder charges. It also noted (7/7) that war veterans were moving off farms around Marondera, according to some commercial farmers. Only The Daily News (5/7) reported appeals for pre-election violence to be investigated and those responsible brought to justice. One came from the European Union's observer mission leader in his address to the European Parliament in Brussels and the other from the National Constitutional Assembly. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for President Mugabe to be impeached for initiating the political violence, according to The Daily News' lead story (5/7). But then he was also quoted in the same story calling for a commission of inquiry to "find out the truth about who was behind the pre-election violence".


While The Daily News reported a new wave of farm invasions in Mashonaland West and East (3/7), across Masvingo (5/7) and a story about commercial farmers being forced off the land (7/7), The Herald (4 &5/7) reported that 500 farmers were contesting the acquisition of their land, but that the CFU was also offering 400 farms for resettlement (6/7) if the government abandoned compulsory acquisition. On ZBC's 8 pm television news (3/7), war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi was reported as saying that "we would start giving land to those people who are on the land, because they are dedicated and are compatriots". He wasn't asked who he was referring to when he said "we"; the government, ZANU PF or the war vets? There has been no follow-up to find out exactly what the government's true position is over land redistribution following the elections. The Zimbabwe Independent reported that 14 members of the CIO and the ZNA had occupied Calgary Farm on the outskirts of Harare. The report was confirmed by the CFU. The paper reported that news of the latest occupation came after a strong statement by the CFU condemning government's failure to stem the tide of violence on farms. "Throughout the period of the farm invasions, the farmers have observed remarkable restraint and shown a more responsible attitude, despite almost intolerable provocation. The elections are over and yet the extortion, destruction of property, theft and the threats continue largely unabated"


The week began with The Herald's report on Monday of President Mugabe's address at Joshua Nkomo's memorial service the previous day when he admitted that the army went "beyond limits" by killing innocent civilians during the civil strife in Matabeleland in the Eighties: "We had had a quarrel, and engaged ourselves in what I should now call a reckless, unprincipled fight within ourselves. It was an act of madness," the President was quoted as saying. But he also used the occasion to attack "some church leaders" for fanning division along tribal and racial lines, interpreting the massive vote against the ruling party in the election as an indication that some people were determined to destroy the Unity Accord. "I saw signals showing that we are getting divided. That is dangerous," he said, appealing to the church to "judge us correctly". It was left to The Daily News (3/7) to clarify the President's troubling allusions. In its story, Mugabe threatens Archbishop, the paper reported that the President had threatened to boycott the service if the churchman originally slated to conduct the service, the outspoken Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, was not withdrawn. The story quoted Ncube saying he had agreed to withdraw after being approached by Nkomo's widow. But it also reported that he now feared he was on the CIO's "hit-list" because ZANU PF blamed him for its electoral defeat in Matabeleland.

There were a host of other political developments, including the announcement of MDC's so- called "shadow cabinet" which appeared in The Daily News and the Zimpapers' titles (6/7) and attracted coverage of the mixed reactions to it in The Zimbabwe Mirror and The Sunday Mail. It also attracted the belated attention of ZBC (but only on television's 8pm bulletin (7/7)) who wheeled out ZANU PF's election campaign manager, Jonathan Moyo, disguised as "a political analyst" describing the announcement as a non-event because Mugabe had not appointed ministers for the MDC to shadow. Although ZBC also quoted the MDC's Learnmore Jongwe and lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, none of them could be described as appropriate sources to support the story's "mixed reactions" billing. ZBC picked up two other newspaper stories in the week exposing the MDC to adverse publicity. The first appeared in an 8pm television news report on July 4th about a "power struggle reportedly rocking the opposition party" drawn from "a weekly newspaper, The People's Voice", without explaining that the voice ZBC was quoting was none other than ZANU PF's official party paper. Little wonder then, that The People's Voice believed the MDC leader had been condemned "to the sidelines of the political arena" after his electoral defeat, and that Welshman Ncube had become the party's second in command behind the MDC's vice-chairman and parliamentary leader, Gibson Sibanda. This was all faithfully reported by ZBC without any comment from the MDC, or anybody else for that matter. It was a theme The Sunday Mail followed up on with a similar story about the possibility of a rift appearing in the MDC over the leadership's decision to ban its MPs from accepting any Cabinet posts in the new government. The issue of who Mugabe would select for Cabinet posts provided The Financial Gazette and The Standard with the opportunity to speculate about when the new team would be announced and who would be in it. They placed their bets on their sources' advice that Border Gezi and Gideon Gono would be among the new faces when the new Parliament was sworn in, probably next Tuesday. And the second occasion ZBC borrowed a story from a newspaper occurred on July 7th, when it picked up the lead in The Zimbabwe Mirror and quoted it as saying the MDC had raised $600 million for its election campaign. The funds came mostly from white farmers, local businesses and foreign donors and were kept at a local bank under the management of trustees. ZBC carried the story in its morning bulletins on Radio 1/3, all radio stations for their 6pm and 8pm bulletins and on television's 8pm news. ZBC named the alleged trustees of the account and quoted ZANU PF spokesman, Jonathan Moyo, saying that the massive sponsorship of the MDC proved it was a front for local white farmers and their British masters. No comment was sought from the MDC and neither did the reporter question Moyo about how much money the ruling party had spent on its election campaign or where its funds had come from, all which would have balanced the story and made the debate about party funding more interesting. The story was followed up the next day featuring a denial by MDC that it had raised anywhere near $600 million; the figure, it said, was closer to $100million. The denial was broadcast on all radio stations' 1pm bulletins, but was dropped in the evening's 6pm and 8pm bulletins. The denial was broadcast on television's 1:30pm news, Nhau Indaba and on its 8pm news. The denial was followed by an item in which Jonathan Moyo criticized the decision by the MDC to challenge the election results in some constituencies saying that this was the work of foreign agents aimed at discrediting the country's electoral process. Moyo went on to say that one fact which had been overlooked was that the elections had seen the unprecedented participation of international forces, working in collusion with world media organizations and church groups. Moyo was the only source quoted in the entire story. Reporting The Mirror story without appearing to verify it, backfired on the ZBC when it granted one of those it had named as a trustee of the MDC funds a chance to deny the claim as "first item" status on its Nhau Ndaba and 8pm television bulletins on July 9th. In her denial, UZ professor, Marvellous Mhloyi, also castigated the media for writing stories about people without checking the facts, an angle the ZBC chose to clothe its right of reply. The story was also carried on all radio stations' 6pm and 8pm bulletins. During the week however, ZBC did attempt to provide some balanced stories involving the MDC. In one interview spread over two nights on television's 7/7 and 8/7 8pm bulletins and reported on 7/7 Radio 1/3's 6pm and 8pm bulletins, MDC's Eddie Cross and ZANU PF's Mutumwa Mawere, spoke of the need to regain investor confidence in the country, with Cross saying the MDC was prepared to work with the ruling party to help rescue the nation's good reputation

Meanwhile, The Herald and The Manica Post (July 7) reported that MDC MP for Mutare North, Giles Mutsekwa, had come under fire from disgruntled party executives who demanded that he account for election campaign funds under his control. The Zimbabwe Independent reported the Zimbabwe Election Support Network report that declared the Registrar-General's office had not been ready for the election, and as a result, it had been marred by enormous logistical problems and poor co-ordination within state agencies. The paper said that although only half the electorate voted, they overwhelmed the Registrar-General's office which failed to announce the results on time (and still keeps the number of spoilt papers a secret). The paper quoted the report as saying that election monitoring was minimal and at best ineffective:

The (ZESN) report said that the scenario set by the Registrar-General's office provided an opportunity for electoral fraud and the logistical problems that existed within state organs also had a marked effect on the administration of the electoral process.

ZIMPAPERS' dailies reported that boisterous new junior ZANU PF MPs had ridiculed their seniors who lost in the polls, at a ZANU PF caucus meeting. The Herald front - page comment "Over-excitement of new ZANU PF MPs uncalled for" (8/7) urged them to exercise restraint.

The Sunday Mail (July 9) article headlined "Role of international election observers raises eyebrows" quoted unnamed sources saying that international observers and NGOs as having been instrumental in the outcome of elections in countries such as Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. And its opinion piece, African Focus concluded that the "US and EU election "observers" during the 2000 election were serving hard-nosed and lucrative economic interests of imperialism". Both the public and private press reported the defections of some ZANU PF people to MDC. The Daily News (July 6) and The Herald (July 8) reported that Masvingo's Deputy Mayor had defected to MDC, while The Zimbabwe Mirror reported that a Gwanda councillor had also defected. The Eastern Star, The Manica Post and The Herald reported that former ZANU PF member, Patrick Chitaka, who lost the elections as an independent candidate in Mutare, had defected to the MDC. The Standard reported that former Harare town clerk and ZANU PF loyalist, Edward Kanengoni, had also swapped his political affiliation and was lining himself up for the mayoral race on an MDC ticket. In a ZBC news report on 9/7, new ZANU PF MP, Phillip Chiyangwa, was reported on television's 7am, 6pm and 8pm bulletins as handing out food worth more than $75 000 to his constituents as fulfillment of a promise made in the run-up to the elections. 6pm and 8pm television news reported the story in full, ignoring the implications of an event which appeared to be tantamount to vote buying.


The Herald reported that the State had dropped charges against two Standard journalists after the Supreme Court had earlier struck down that part of the Law and Order Maintenance Act under which they had been charged. The Financial Gazette reported that government planned to impose stringent controls on the media, including a media council whose mandate would be to oversee the work of journalists. The paper suggested journalists would be required to carry state-issued operating licenses, a claim that Information Minister, Chen Chimutengwende, avoided dismissing. The paper also quoted IJAZ and ZUJ officials saying they would resist the move, preferring to set up their own media council. The Zimbabwe Independent, in a follow-up report, said there were more problems at Zimpapers. The paper reported that Chimutengwende and Herald editor Bornwell Chakaodza had clashed on editorial policy as the minister sought to have the paper toe the party line. But Chakaodza, the paper said, had stood his ground. The Independent claimed Zimpapers' editors had resolved to abandon the "crude MDC-bashing line" largely blamed for the decline in circulation and advertising. The Zimbabwe Independent and The Financial Gazette also reported that the government planned a media blitz to try and spruce up its battered image.


The effects of the political crisis on the economy began to emerge this week, with several price increases announced along with company closures. The Daily News (July 4) reported that the price of bread would go up by 10%. It also quoted Britain's Peter Hain saying that Zimbabwe may need food aid within months, a report which was denied by local commercial farmers. The Financial Gazette reported that at least 250 000 in the formal sector were set to lose their jobs as a result of the economic crisis. The paper quoted MDC's economic adviser, Eddie Cross. It also reported that SA investors had resolved to stay away until they could get guarantees for the safety of their investments and a return to the rule of law. The Zimbabwe Independent reported that Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries has been forced to close for a month due to its failure to source foreign currency to fund its operations. As a result the paper said 600 workers would be laid off, with at least 6000 employees in downstream local component manufacturers expected to be laid off for the same period.

For more information about the Project, previous issues of the MMPZ reports and alerts, please visit our Web site at http://www.icon.co.zw/mmpz or contact:

Project Coordinator
221 Fife Avenue

Tel/fax: 263 4 733486, 734207, 263 11716645
E-mail: monitors@icon.co.zw

Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List

This is currently a manually administered mailing list. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send your request to DELETED. Personal requests for removal will be carried out immediately. Requests from governmental, political or press organisations (or their representatives) will be treated less favourably. The purpose of this list is not necessarily to redistribute published news reports. Rather, it is intended to distribute reports from or directly affecting people in Zimbabwe. If you have seen something before, I apologise. Hopefully that will not be a regular occurrence. Any reports from respondents that are relayed to the mailing list will be done so anonymously.

Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Zimbabwe Crisis mailing list archives -- http://www.niner.net/zimcrisis
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk