According to a cable released by Wikileaks the post was equally coveted by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and possibly others.
ZANU-PF, which now enjoyed a two-thirds majority in Parliament, had already successfully reintroduced the Senate, a move that had split the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Mugabe was the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and had executive powers but the post was abolished in 1987 with the creation of the executive presidency.
Previously the post of president was ceremonial.
Viewing cable 06HARARE187, PARLIAMENT RESUMES, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000187
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2015
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT RESUMES, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
REF: A. REF A: 2005 HARARE 1238
¶B. REF B: 2005 HARARE 1174
¶C. REF C: 2005 HARARE 395
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) Zimbabwe,s Parliament resumed on February 7, marking
the first sitting of the Senate since that body was abolished
in 1990. However, the legislative agenda is very thin and
MPs could be sent home any day. Although two bills were
introduced into the Senate, the supposedly august house
recessed after only two days, appearing to prove those
critics who called it a worthless institution. A revised,
but still unpopular, Education Bill tops the current agenda
and is likely to pass. Although there remains widespread
speculation of another constitutional amendment and a new
mining bill, such high-profile legislation is not to be seen
on the immediate horizon. The session also marked the de
facto split of the MDC parliamentarian corps, with the two
factions choosing separate legislative leadership. End
Parliament Kicks off 2006 With a Whimper
¶2. (C) John Makamure, the director of USAID,s parliamentary
support project implemented by the State University of New
York's (SUNY), told poloff on February 13 that the agenda for
the newly-opened session of parliament was virtually
non-existent. There are only six bills gazetted and the
Attorney General,s office ) which finalizes bills before
Parliament considers them ) has no pending legislation.
Even motions by MPs, which are typically put forward if there
is no pending business, have been conspicuously absent.
Makamure said that even the ZANU-PF chief parliamentary whip,
Joram Gumbo, had expressed private concerns that legislative
business was slacking. Makamure commented that most
parliamentarians were seemingly preoccupied with receiving
their allotted vehicles and had little direction from their
otherwise preoccupied respective party leaders.
¶3. (C) Also noting the thin schedule, ZANU-PF MP for Chivi
South Charles Majange told poloff on February 14 that
Parliament could adjourn at any time because there was no
meaningful work. He said that ruling party MPs were
unwilling to put forward independent motions for fear that
they would be kicked out of the party and lose their seat
(and access to parliamentary perquisites). Majange lamented
the ruling party,s tight leash on MPs and asserted that the
lack of independence or any agenda was sapping the energy of
even reform-minded ruling party backbenchers.
¶4. (C) The newly-recreated Senate was in a particularly
sorry state, according to Makamure. The upper house recessed
after sitting for only two days. All told, the Senate has
sat for less than one business day since being reconstituted
(ref A). Little progress had been made integrating Senators
into the existing committee structure, although Majange and
another SUNY contact noted that Senators Mahere and Mapfumo
have participated in meetings of the Parliamentary Legal
Committee (PLC). In the already-cramped Parliament building,
the senior statesmen have no office space. Parliament even
lacks enough money to have an induction ceremony for the new
¶5. (C) These shortcomings are impacting the work of the
upper house. Makamure said the early February debate on the
Council for Higher Education Bill ) which was introduced
into the upper house - was particularly disappointing when
none of the Senators offered any input. He attributed this
to the lack of proper orientation and knowledge of basic
parliamentary procedures. Israel Chilimanzi, a SUNY advisor,
told poloff that 30-40 of the 66 Senators typically attended
the sessions, but he speculated that their disengagement
showed they cared more about their travel per diems than
Bills on Tap, More To Come?
¶6. (C) Of the six bills currently before Parliament, the
Education Bill has proved the most contentious(ref B).
Originally drafted to tighten Education Minister
Chigwedere,s grip over both public and private schools, the
bill was subsequently amended after the PLC found parts to be
unconstitutional and the public - including many within
ZANU-PF - reacted strongly against the far-reaching bill.
The revised bill requires that all schools apply to the
Education Ministry before raising tuition and obliges the
Ministry to approve all tuition hikes that do not exceed
increases in the official consumer price index. The amended
bill also relaxed restrictions on teacher qualifications and
the use of local languages, two other contentious points in
the original draft. Majange said that the bill remains
unpopular even among ruling party legislators, but that it
was destined to pass regardless due to party discipline.
¶7. (C) The Investment Authority Bill introduced in the
Senate is a relatively obscure piece of legislation that
could have important implications for foreign investment.
This bill would establish a Zimbabwe Investment Authority
that would replace the Zimbabwe Investment Center and the
Export Processing Zones Authority. Holders of existing
investment certificates would then have to convert them into
licenses under the new body. While creating a one-stop-shop
for investors is a step forward, the license conversion
process is unclear, fueling uncertainty amongst investors and
potentially offering the GOZ an opportunity to further
hamstring the private sector and meddle in the economy.
¶8. (C) Another investor-unfriendly bill said to be in the
pipeline is the mining legislation, which would require
foreign investors to offer local partners a share of the
assets. Zimplats CEO Greg Sebborn on February 14 told poloff
that the Ministry of Mines was currently drafting the
legislation. Mugabe last year publicly said that a 50
percent ownership share should go to local firms, a stake
that is unacceptably high, according to Sebborn. Instead,
Sebborn said that Zimplats was willing to accept 30 percent,
which could be reached possibly by giving back to the GOZ
some of the company,s many holdings. He said the local
partner is reportedly to be appointed by a GOZ commission,
likely leaving the process open to corruption. Sebborn
professed to be confident that Zimplat,s license ) approved
by Parliament in 1994 and subject to international
arbitration ) would afford the company some protection
should the submitted bill be too draconian.
¶9. (C) The most widely anticipated ) and the most
tightly-held secret - piece of legislation for the current
session is the next constitutional amendment. Little
official word on the amendment has filtered down from the
highest levels of the ruling party, despite widespread rumors
that it will seal plans for Mugabe,s succession and possibly
recreate the post of prime minister ) promised to
former-heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa according to one
second-hand version related held to post, but equally coveted
by Reserve Bank Governor Gono and possibly others. Makamure
said nothing had reached the Attorney General yet and Majange
professed to know nothing of its outlines beyond press
¶10. (C) The Domestic Violence Bill is one long-awaited bill
that is receiving an energetic push this term. Apparently
capitalizing on a recently published white paper on the bill
published by the Justice Ministry, the Ministry for Women,s
Affairs and the Musasa Project have launched an advertisement
campaign to raise public awareness of the legislation and
press for its passage. (N.B. Senator Sheila Mahere this week
resigned as director of Musasa Project after several donors
and NGO partners expressed discomfort with her appointment to
the upper house.)
¶11. (C) One bill unlikely to reemerge is the NGO Bill, which
died early last year through a rare pocket veto by Mugabe
(ref C). Makamure reported that the bill had been moved from
the Public Services Ministry to the Attorney General,s
office, where none of the staff had been instructed to review
it. Indeed, Makamure suggested that Legal Minister Chinamasa
had lost interest in the bill.
MDC MPs Split Along Faction Lines
¶12. (C) The ongoing &divorce8 within the opposition MDC
has spread to the lower house, where some 22-23 of the 41 MDC
MPs are likely to eventually side with Welshman Ncube,s
breakaway faction, according to neutral-minded MP David
Coltart. MPs from both factions continue to sit intermixed
in Parliament and Makamure said there were few overt signs of
conflict. Nonetheless, the two sides have held separate
caucuses and the Ncube contingent has even gone so far as to
appoint a parallel team of shadow ministers and chief whip,
Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo.
¶13. (C) The GOZ has failed to effectively exploit the
"historic" resumption of the bi-cameral legislature,
appearing to drop all pretext that the recreated upper house
can make any meaningful contribution. Instead, it has only
confirmed early assessments that the Senate would be a
trough, up against which ruling party cronies could belly.
Meanwhile, the preoccupation of MDC MPs with their party,s
own disintegration has given ZANU-PF what it wants: a docile
opposition, which combined with subservient ruling party MPs
allows the GOZ to steam roll self-serving legislation through
the body. This, plus the swift passage of the last
constitutional amendment in August, means the GOZ surely
knows another amendment would face only token opposition.
The delayed debut of the latest amendment therefore may
signal continued division and disarray within the ruling
party's upper echelons. With neither house of parliament
shockingly able to find any meaningful business to engage
their time as the country,s economy disintegrates before
their eyes, Zimbabwe is taking on the surrealist quality of
Nero fiddling as Rome burns.