By Tafataona Mahoso
On October 5 2011, NewsDay published a top front page story called “(Jonathan) Moyo licks Mugabe’s shoes”. On the very same day The Daily News also carried the same story but with a top front headline declaring the exact opposite: “Mugabe fed up with (Jonathan) Moyo”.
The two papers used as source material the lecture which Honourable Professor Jonathan Moyo had delivered at the Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (Sapes) Trust the previous day.
In that lecture, Prof Moyo had said that the US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks confirm what Zimbabweans already knew or suspected ever since US Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner revealed in August 2002 that the US government was using “independent journalists”, among other forces, to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.
Now, WikiLeaks has named Sydney Masamvu and Stanley Gama as two of the many journalists and editors who have been so used and are still being used. In August 2002, Zimbabweans expected the media community to respond to Walter Kansteiner’s claims, to deny or confirm them. There was deafening silence.
Today there has been no professional response from associations of journalists on the revelations about Sydney Masamvu and Stanley Gama. Instead of addressing the moral and professional issues raised by these cables — which are confirming what was alleged in August 2002 — both NewsDay and The Daily News responded by gratuitously attacking Prof Moyo, calling him all sorts of demeaning names.
The two papers, to use their own language, proceeded to unleash “hate language” upon the professor, precisely because of what he said in his lecture.
In the same lecture, Prof Moyo also accused USAid as one of the key sponsors of the journalists being used in the illegal regime change campaign. This allegation can be confirmed not just in Zimbabwe but in other parts of the world where the US has engaged in illegal regime change.
The question then arises: why does USAid need to corrupt journalists and media houses?
In September 2004, the US Defence Department published its “Report of the Defence Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication” which included statistics from opinion polls conducted by Zogby International in July of the same year.
The statistics showed not only that people in the so-called Middle East disliked US policies and US influence. It also showed that the levels of dislike were increasing.
The US Defence Department (the Pentagon) tried not to alarm their government. So they split the opposition to US policies into two categories: “Soft Opposition” and “Hard Opposition”, so that the opposition would not appear overwhelming.
The Pentagon created a spectrum of Middle East opinion as follows:
Hard Support (for US government): Middle East regimes and their retainers;
Soft Support: Middle East regimes and their retainers, plus a few technocrats;
Neutral: Some of the professional class and some regular and poor;
Soft Opposition: The overwhelming majority; and
l Hard Opposition: A substantial minority (more than we want to admit).
The Pentagon then warned that:
“(North) Americans are (however) convinced that the US is a benevolent superpower that elevates values emphasising freedom and prosperity at the core of its own national interest.
Thus, for (North) Americans, US values are in reality world values — exemplified by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the 1975 Helsinki Accord — so deep down we assume that everyone should naturally support our policies. Yet the world of Islam — by overwhelming majorities at this time — sees things differently.”
The Pentagon concluded that Moslems “see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical, and American actions as deeply threatening”.
They could have said the same about Zimbabweans, Iranians, Palestinians, Cubans, Venezuelans . . .
According to the July 2004 Zogby poll, opposition to the US message increased from 76 percent in 2002 to 98 percent by 2004 in Egypt; 61 to 78 percent in Jordan; 87 to 94 percent in Saudi Arabia; and 61 to 88 percent in Morocco by the same year 2004.
Opposition to US-Iraq policy was 98 percent in Morocco; 97 percent in Saudi Arabia; 93 percent in Lebanon; and 91 percent in United Arab Emirates by 2004.
Opposition to US policy on terrorism was 82 percent in Morocco; 96 percent in Saudi Arabia; and 84 percent in Lebanon by 2004.
Opposition to US policy toward Palestinians was 93 percent in Morocco; 95 percent in Saudi Arabia; 90 percent in Lebanon; and 90 percent in United Arab Emirates by 2004.
But the US is worried about what is happening in the Moslem world as indicative of a world-wide trend.
In September 2010, the US Centre for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and the National Endowment for Democracy published a study called “Winds From the East: How the People’s Republic of China Seeks to Influence the Media in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia”.
Note that the areas covered here represent most of the South and the East outside the Middle East, which was covered by the Pentagon study. But the concerns are the same.
The CIMA concluded that the global media template which has dominated most of the world outside China and the former Soviet Union has been the US template: in movies, TV, newspapers, radio, video and book publishing.
That template is eroding fast; and the role of China and the BricS countries is making that erosion faster and more steady. Brics refers to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This is because the Brics countries have created more economic space for countries of the South and East to move and buck the aid system dominated by the Washington Consensus since the 1950s.
USAid has been at the heart of that global aid system together with the World Bank and the IMF. This means that in the last 20 years or so, USAid has escalated its efforts to buy goodwill, to buy public opinion and to bribe opinion makers, particularly journalists.
Before looking at particular cases, it is important to get a sense of the size of the global aid regime which is corrupting foreign-sponsored media and foreign-sponsored journalists even here in Zimbabwe.
Economist Dambisa Moyo’s book: Dead Aid — Why Aid is not working and How there is another way for Africa, asks the question on Page 54: “Why give aid if it leads to corruption?”
First, she says there is pressure to lend or to give aid.
“The World Bank employs 10 000 people, the IMF over 2 500; add another 5 000 for other UN agencies; add to that the employees of at least 25 000 registered NGOs, private charities and the army of government aid agencies (including USAid): taken together around 500 000 people, the (entire) population of Swaziland . . . Their livelihoods depend on aid.”
So, if we go back to my last two instalments, it is not just the vilification of targeted countries which has been made “professional” (which means placed in the hands of full-time demonisers); corruption and bribery have also been professionalised.
There are hundreds of thousands of persons employed full time to corrupt professionals; and there are even larger numbers of those being corrupted. The corrupters are promoted the more people and institutions they corrupt. The recipients are also promoted, the more “help” they accept in the business of corrupting public opinion for the empire’s benefit.
This is the context in which we must see the corruption of journalists and editors working for so-called “independent” media. The context was spelt out in a recent paper. In an article called “The Corrupt Role of NGOs, Donors and Civil Society in the Zimbabwean Crisis”, Paul Rumena Chimhosva had this to say about these “professionals” in the anti-Zimbabwe racket.
“These so-called leaders (in the NGO sector) have holiday houses in places like Cape Town and other exotic places around the globe. People based in Zimbabwe, selling out on the people’s struggle, have set themselves businesses in Botswana and South Africa.
“So-called human rights campaigners on behalf of Zimbabwe, like Eleanor Sisulu of South Africa, have enriched themselves to obscene levels . . . individuals who cannot provide any meaningful contribution to humanity have found themselves a very lucrative pastime: crying crocodile tears on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and getting paid for it.
A simple audit of estates of individuals who lead all these mushrooming Zimbabwe “crisis’ NGOs should show the donors how much their investments actually reach people of Zimbabwe. A huge chunk of their donations are destined for the pockets of the few.”
Anyone who observes the global mass media will not fail to notice a strange pattern: Despite claims of diversity and pluralism of media in the West, despite claims of competitiveness and independence of the Western media, the Western framing of the unfinished African liberation project follows a predictable, stereotypical and often racist pattern.
This is so to the extent that one can expect the views of the global multinational corporations, the views of the major Western capitalist powers and the views of the major global mass media to coincide on fundamental questions concerning Africa.
The global oligopolies are the biggest beneficiaries of this orthodox framing but major Western governments also benefit because they see the ideological role of the media support of the oligopolies as helping to make their own national economies grow at the expense of those of the South and the East which are targets of the alliance.
But what is more disturbing is a pattern which began in the US-sponsored coup d’etat in Iran in 1952; was repeated in the US-sponsored coup d’etat in Chile in 1973; was repeated in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic between 1999 and 2004; was repeated in the US-sponsored but foiled coup d’etat against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002.
In Chile, by the time of the coup d’etat against President Salvador Allende in 1973, more than 30 percent of US projects in that country were media projects.
Editors and journalists were attached to US media spies who “handled” them and told them how to craft language and headlines for local political stories, with the singular object of demonising Allende and making his illegal overthrow by the US appear justifiable.
In Iran, by the time Dr Mohamed Mosadegh was overthrown, US spies were influencing 80 percent of the content of those media they had sponsored and set up. A similar pattern can be found in the struggle to overthrow former Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic from the 1990s until 2004.
Now, the current WikiLeaks have also revealed a similar pattern here in Zimbabwe which is orchestrated by USAid and the NGOs it has helped set up and finance. Sydney Masamvu and Stanley Gama have been fingered as among the journalists and editors who are furthering the US programme of vilification and demonisation against Zimbabwe’s leaders and politicians.
What came out in August 2002 as a general indictment of “independent” media houses by former US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner has now come back with names of editors and journalists attached. But the media houses employing those journalists have kept quiet. So have the journalists’ associations.
Under normal circumstances, Stanley Gama would have resigned already. Instead, he has unleashed hate language against Prof Moyo, again using the very same paper which is supposed to serve its readers and not personal vendettas. Why does Stanley Gama want to subject readers to such unwarranted attacks? What information value did the attacks give to readers?
Dr Tafataona Mahoso is a known sympathiser of the Mugabe regime and his views do not reflect those of Nehanda Radio.com.