A New Muldergate Scandal in Africa this in Zimbabwe
by Scott Morgan
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
One of the most efficient and time honored or in some cases dishonored means of intelligence gathering or the use in a disinformation campaign is to manipulate or to outright be in control of media outlets. Here in the United States when events like this occur the term "The Mighty Wurlitzer" is used to describe when the Intelligence Agencies appear to have placed an item that benefits them or National Security. This has been a source of material for those critical of the activities of the CIA and other agencies.
In the most recent edition of the Zimbabwe Independent which was published on August 11th of this year there is a chilling item. The item documents how the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) spent billions of Zimbabwean Dollars in co-opting three independent newspapers in that embattled and isolated African State. The effort has been ongoing since 2002 in an effort to maintain a positive image regarding the events in Zimbabwe that continue to spiral out of control. This is also an effective tactic in ensuring that the voice of the political opposition is not heard or seen.
In this age of instant communications and the Internet one can ask where would the spy agency get such a idea for an endeavor. It seems that they stayed within the region and followed the lead of an old adversary. During the era of Apartheid in neighboring South Africa the Intelligence Agency conducted a similar operation. It set up newspapers and occupied media space in a scandal that became known as Muldergate. It was named after Connie Mulder. At the time she was the Minister of Information for the South African Government. It is also common knowledge that the largest newspaper in circulation in Angola is controlled by that country’s intelligence agency also.
As the economy of Zimbabwe continues to collapse amid both internal and external factors and a growing disillusionment within the general population the CIO felt that it had to take some action. So in 2002 the agency started moves to force its way into the Financial Gazette and the Mirror titles. At this time the CIO has 100% control of the FINGAZ and has a 70% stake in the Mirror. With regards to the Mirror it is reported that the CIO pays up to 80% of the operating expenses and has the final word in editorial decisions. It is know reported that the CIO is targeting the Voice which is the main paper of the ruling ZANU-PF.
The fact that the Intelligence Agency has co-opted elements of the Independent Media is chilling. And the news that the Agency was behind the demise of the Daily News and has influence with the Media and Information Commission leads one to believe that the spymasters want to call the shots. All foreign Journalists have been forced to leave that country so that is one phase of their plan has been completed. If the rest of this project is completed who knows what form of Freedom of the Press will remain in Zimbabwe.
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