The re-introduction of the Senate in 2005 created a job for Sithembiso Nyoni who had once again lost the elections in the March. The elevation of Edna Madzongwe freed up space for Nyoni in the lower House.
President Robert Mugabe appointed the two-time loser Minister of State for Small and Medium Enterprises, a position she had held before her defeat.
Viewing cable 05HARARE1647, SENATE TAKES OFFICE WITH SOME SURPRISE APPOINTEES
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 02 HARARE 001647
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2015
SUBJECT: SENATE TAKES OFFICE WITH SOME SURPRISE APPOINTEES
BUT NO AGENDA
REF: A. REF A: HARARE 001609
¶B. REF B: HARARE 001296
¶C. REF C: HARARE 001187
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T Schultz under Section 1.4
¶1. (C) The 66 members of the Senate took the oath of office
on November 30, amidst little fanfare and low expectations.
They adjourned the next day until December 13. Beyond
reviewing and debating the budget bill (septel) it is unclear
what will be on the Senate,s agenda when it resumes. In
addition to the 43 ZANU-PF and seven MDC elected members (ref
A), President Mugabe appointed six Senators and ten more came
from the ranks of the traditional chiefs. The six Mugabe
appointees include two surprising choices from the legal and
women,s rights communities. Mugabe also resurrected two
members of the ruling party old guard to fill vacant slots in
his Cabinet. End Summary.
Senate Sworn In — Adjourns
¶2. (C) Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma on November 30 swore
in the 66 members of the reconstituted Senate, following an
election in which less than a fifth of eligible voters
bothered to cast a ballot. As its first act, the body
elected Edna Madzongwe, the former Deputy Speaker of
Parliament, as its president. Naison Ndlovu, the ZANU-PF
Secretary for Production and Labor and new Senator for
Insiza, was elected as Deputy President. Replacing Madzongwe
as Deputy Speaker of Parliament is the unimpressive Buhera
South MP and ZANU-PF Secretary for Foreign Relations,
Kumbirai Kangai (ref B).
¶3. (C) In her opening speech, Madzongwe said that her
nomination and the high number of women in the upper house
(20 out of 66 members) demonstrated the progress that women
have made in Zimbabwe. The director of the SUNY
parliamentary support project, John Makamure, however, told
poloff on December 1 that Madzongwe,s leadership did not
bode well for the institution,s impartiality. While in the
lower house she had often violated procedures to side with
the ruling party.
¶4. (C) The Senate met again December 1, at which time the
government,s budget announced by Finance Minister Murerwa
was introduced (septel). The Senators then adjourned until
December 13. Makamure said that the Senators would be
integrated into preexisting parliamentary committees as a way
of quickly acclimating the new members. (Comment: Further
calling into question the upper house,s independence and
reason for being.) Makamure also said that the Senate had no
real legislative agenda but speculated that the GOZ might
introduce some legislation in that body first as a means to
justify its reconstitution.
¶5. (C) In addition to the 50 elected members, Mugabe
appointed six non-constituency Senators and named ten
&traditional leaders8 (i.e. tribal chiefs) to the body.
The chiefs can all be expected to toe the government line.
However the six appointees are more of a mixed bag. In
addition to the expected ZANU-PF insider/financiers there
were two surprise choices of legal and civil society
activists: Tazvitya Jonathan Mapfumo (a respected lawyer, who
has worked on many women,s issues) and Sheila Mahere, the
sole woman of the six non-constituency Senators.
¶6. (C) Mahere is a particular surprise. She is a long-time
Embassy contact and the director of Musasa Project, a
Democracy and Human Rights Fund grant recipient that works
with battered women. In a December 2 conversation with
poloff, Mahere professed to be surprised by her appointment,
which she said was apparently supported by Vice President
Mujuru and Minister of Women,s Affairs Muchinguri. She said
she and her fellow Senators were aware of the criticisms
levied against the institution and accordingly planned to
work doubly hard to justify their positions. Mahere said she
personally hoped to use her new role to advance gender
issues, such as the long-shelved domestic violence bill.
Noting that Mugabe needed legal minds in the Senate, she also
suggested that she and fellow lawyer Mapfumo would likely
form the backbone of the upper house,s contingent in the
parliamentary legal committee.
Old Guard Retreads Reemerge in Cabinet
¶7. (C) Mugabe also moved this week to fill holes in his
Cabinet with two ZANU-PF insiders. Sithembiso Nyoni, a
two-time parliamentary loser, was renamed Minister of State
for Small to Medium Enterprise, a position she had vacated
earlier this year when she lost in the March election and
Mugabe failed to appoint her to Parliament. The elevation of
Madzongwe to Senate freed up space in the lower house for
Nyoni. Meanwhile, newly-minted Senator Samuel Mumbengegwi
was tapped to fill the top position at the Ministry of
Indigenization and Empowerment left vacant by Josiah
Tungamirai,s death in August (ref C). Like Tungamirai,
Mumbengegwi is a member of the Karanga subgroup of the
majority Shona ethnic group and hails from Masvingo.
¶8. (C) Mahere and the handful of other reform-minded
Senators may be able to use their new positions to call
attention to needed changes (see septel for bio details of
potential reformers). However, we are skeptical )- as is
all of Zimbabwe — that the Senate as a whole will find a
useful role to play in governing the country. As currently
constituted the Senate will likely do little or nothing )-
as Mugabe probably intended -) beyond snuffling up to the