Use of media to invite, justify and sustain white sanctions: Part Two ….special role of Daily News

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By Dr Tafataona Mahoso

ACCORDING to founding editor and founding director Geoffrey Nyarota, there were two facts which the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), Daily News management and media outlets as well as NGOs supporting the paper withheld from the people of Zimbabwe about the ANZ’s failure/refusal to register in terms of the law by the time of the well-publicised deadline in 2003.

The first important fact was that the ANZ’s records were not in order and could not, at that time, be presented to the then Media and Information Commission (MIC). 

ANZ, however, did not approach the MIC to present its problem or ask for extension of the deadline.

The second fact was that the statements put out by the ANZ were a blatant façade; that ANZ would not apply to register as a matter of principle because of their belief that the law requiring registration and accreditation was draconian, undemocratic and unjustified. 

The law then deserved only to be defied in its totality.

It is important to point out that Nyarota wrote the article revealing these two facts in retrospect in an October 24 2003 Zimbabwe Independent piece titled ‘Death of The Daily News: Telling it Like it is’. 

By the time Nyarota’s confession was published, the whole world believed that the Zimbabwe Government and the MIC simply conspired to ‘ban’ the paper because it was ‘the largest independent publication in the country’ and because it supported the opposition MDC.  

That false perception remains to this day.  

This is why teaching the true history of white sanctions against Zimbabwe is important. 

The false story of The Daily News’s history has been used to sustain sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The Daily News played a special role in inviting sanctions on Zimbabwe, justifying them and pushing for their retention.

For instance, the following listed stories contributed to the demonisation of the country and most of them were proven to be false.  

But these stories were not the reason the Supreme Court ruled that the paper was operating outside the law.  

As can be seen from the list of false stories, the paper’s regime change agenda was clear from the very beginning in 2001. 

It did not start in 2003.

On February 10 2000, Daily News celebrated the British Labour Party’s abandonment of part of the Lancaster House agreement of 1979 whereby the British Government had accepted responsibility for compensating white commercial farmers when and if the new Government of Zimbabwe took back farmland for redistribution to the dispossessed African majority. 

The new British administration of Tony Blair reneged on this 1979 understanding through Clare Short’s letter in 1997.  

Daily News was euphoric when this new British position was restated in 2000.  

‘UK refuses to pay for land: Denies any obligation to compensate (white settler-farmers)’, was the headline.

Then on November 7 2000, Daily News celebrated the fact that Denmark had cut so-called ‘aid’ to Zimbabwe and insisted that the aid would be restored only if the African land reclamation movement stopped seizing and occupying ‘white farms’.  

So pleased were the editors that on November 9 2000, they published an editorial titled ‘Denmark’s (sanctions) gesture our last hope’.  

In other words, we Zimbabweans were such a hopeless lot that ‘our last hope’ depended on Danish intervention against the reclamation of our stolen inheritance in land.

The special case of 2008

Significantly, there was an extraordinary concentration of media-orchestrated lies against Zimbabwe in 2008 because the entire regime change camp at home and abroad believed they had achieved the white goal of total collapse of both the economy and the society.

The first example of an orchestrated lie was initiated on April 15 and 16 2008.  

The British Government and British intelligence instigated imbedded journalists at CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other white-driven channels to insert Zimbabwe among countries affected by war; countries which the UN was going to discuss on April 16.  

The British and North Americans also instigated the UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon to mention Zimbabwe as if it was on the UN Security Council agenda when in fact it was not. 

By mentioning Zimbabwe in the context of Darfur, Afghanistan, Somalia and DRC, the US and UK were inflicting media violence on Zimbabwe, which media violence they hoped would at some point inspire and inflame real physical violence within Zimbabwe itself. 

In addition, the open abuse of the Office of the UN secretary-general by the UK and US inflicted diplomatic violence on those UN members who wished to adhere to legal procedures.

During the week leading up to April 16, a number of ‘black propaganda’ videos attacking the peace in Zimbabwe were shown on BBC, CNN and Sky News.  

One of these alleged that a soldier had just defected from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.  

He had just confessed that the Government of Zimbabwe used soldiers to steal the 2008 harmonised elections for President Robert Mugabe.  

The video was supposed to have been made inside Zimbabwe by an anonymous and unaccredited journalist interviewing an anonymous person claiming to be an anonymous soldier at an un-named place at an un-specified time. 

And these white-driven channels wanted the world to take this video for a true story.

A second video featured an un-named man claiming to be a defecting policeman from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). 

He also confessed that the ZRP stole the 2008 harmonised elections on behalf of President Mugabe.  

Like the man claiming to be an anonymous soldier, the alleged policeman remained faceless, rankles, nameless and numberless.  

The surroundings in which he was filmed were also blocked for fear of revealing details which would locate the place where the encounter with camera person really happened.  

The BBC did not want to repeat the embarrassment which resulted from Hilary Anderson’s fake documentary in 2004 which claimed to have been made in Zimbabwe but showed Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town in the background.

On Tuesday, March 25 2008, Al-Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’ programme claimed that the Zimbabwe Government was denying food to communities it considered as belonging to the opposition, when in fact the real story was that the illegal and racist sanctions imposed by the West on the country made it difficult for the Government of Zimbabwe to pay for food imports in years of drought and bad weather and that the NGOs allied to the MDC were using money and food donations to bribe voters, as the MDC-Tsvangirai document was later to reveal.

On the same day, March 25 2008, a BBC reporter in Livingstone, Zambia, claimed all street kids and prostitutes in that town were Zimbabweans who had run away from President Mugabe’s rule.  

The BBC further claimed all the food being eaten in Zimbabwe came from outside the country, from Zimbabweans who had run away to other countries.  

This lie could be dispelled easily by visiting Mbare Musika on any day.  

Even foreign diplomats were shopping for fresh foods at Mbare Musika.

This bold lie tied in with a previous panel discussion on SABC Africa at around 7am on March 20 2008.  

Two youngsters appeared on the panel: Tapera Kapuya, representing Professor Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA, and George Rapela, allegedly representing the Young Communists of South Africa.  

The two youngsters broadcast several unchallenged lies about Zimbabwe which again suggested a country at war.

The first lie was that Zimbabwe’s population in 2008 was still exactly as it was at the 2000 census, that is 12 million people. 

The second lie was that three million of the 12 million people had run away from Zimbabwe and were now living in South Africa.  

The conclusion was that it was not possible therefore to register more than five million voters in Zimbabwe for the 2008 elections, since the total population there must be at most 12 million people minus the three million now in South Africa!   Counting emigrants to the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and Europe – there would be hardly any voting public left in Zimbabwe in 2008. 

After further subtracting youths and children under 18 years of age from the remaining eight-or-so million people, the panelists alleged that the country was almost empty in 2008!

The day after the voting ended in Zimbabwe, April 1 2008, both the BBC and CNN announced that South African President Thabo Mbeki had already brokered a deal which would ease President Mugabe and ZANU PF out of power and bring in a new MDC-Tsvangirai presidency.

South Africa denied that such negotiations had taken place or were ever going to take place.  

In fact, at that time, only the opposition had announced its own result of the elections.   

So there would be no basis even for speculating about negotiations over the results. 

But the rules of war-time propaganda meant that neither CNN nor BBC would repeat South Africa’s denial of the story the same way it had repeated the lie.  

Both channels simply allowed it to fade away, only to be replaced by new ones with the very same objective of using war-like propaganda against the peace prevailing in Zimbabwe.

The future

This brief survey of the published lies employed in inviting, justifying and renewing Western racial sanctions against Zimbabwe serves to underline the need to fight, not only for the removal of the racist sanctions but also for exposing and ending the campaign of lies on which the sanctions were based.  

This is no easy task.

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