President Robert Mugabe, who had been rumoured to be ill or dead, officially opened Parliament on 9 June lambasting the United States for its “shameless refusal” to join international consensus in accepting the results of the March elections in which his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had won a two-thirds majority.
The Movement for Democratic Change which won 41 seats, 16 down from the previous Parliament, boycotted the official opening, joining a stay-away organised by civil society to protest against the government’s Operation Murambatsvina which had seen some 700 000 people lose their shelter.
Mugabe was joined by his deputy Joseph Msika who was also rumoured to be ill or dead.
Viewing cable 05HARARE804, NO NEW DIRECTION IN MUGABE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT
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 000804
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010
SUBJECT: NO NEW DIRECTION IN MUGABE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i. Eric Schultz under Section 1.4 b/
¶1. (SBU) President Mugabe’s speech to the opening session of
the new Parliament on June 9 projected familiar themes of
western conspiracies and government intervention in the
economy. It broke little new ground and reinforced that the
GOZ was unlikely to relax its heavy-handedness in political,
economic, or social spheres. Mugabe made no mention of the
opposition, which boycotted the session in solidarity with
the stay-away it was supporting with civil society
organizations to protest the GOZ,s Operation Restore Order
(septel). END SUMMARY.
¶2. (U) Mugabe opened his half-hour nationally broadcast
speech with high praise for the conduct of Zimbabwe’s recent
parliamentary elections, which he cast as in compliance with
SADC election principles. He thanked the broader
international community for its unqualified endorsement of
the elections as free and fair. Mugabe castigated the UK and
the U.S. for their “shameless refusal” to join “international
consensus” ) proof, he claimed, of their neo-colonial agenda
to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty. He pledged to intensify
Zimbabwe’s relations with SADC members and Asian nations.
Zimbabwe would work hard to reform the UN to stem the
“excesses of a unipolar world where might prevails over
Changes in Constitution and Law Enforcement
¶3. (U) The President did not elaborate on the GOZ’s highly
publicized plans for constitutional amendments, other than to
reiterate that they would provide for establishment of (1) a
Senate, (2) a consolidated independent election commission,
and (3) provisions for streamlining GOZ acquisition of land.
To combat corruption, the GOZ would establish a new
Anti-Corruption Commission and establish stiff mandatory
penalties for illicit trade in currency and minerals. A
Judicial Services Bill and an Attorney General Office’s Bill
would streamline the administration of justice and stem brain
drain the legal sector.
Nothing New in Economic Priorities
¶4. (U) Turning to economic policy, Mugabe reported that the
GOZ would eliminate the country’s reliance on rain by putting
nearly 600,000 hectares under irrigation. It would dedicate
Z$1 trillion (US$110 million at the GOZ auction rate) to
irrigation development, supplementing the existing GOZ
commitment to make available Z$5 trillion (US$550 million) in
concessionary loans for the agricultural sector. To stem
inflation, the GOZ would establish a National Income and
Salary Commission with unspecified authority.
¶5. (U) Mugabe painted rosy pictures of “strong recovery” in
the tourism sector, progress in education, and unspecified
new initiatives to attract investment and develop alternative
fuels in the energy sector. The GOZ would introduce
legislation to advance its indigenization objectives,
including amendments to the Mine and Mineral Act. The GOZ
would address urban ills through its Operation “Restore
Order” (septels), unspecified amendments to the Urban and
Rural Council Acts, and a Z$12 trillion (US$1.2 billion)
municipal working capital fund. A corporate governance
framework would turn around parastatals that he characterized
as “opaque, bottomless receptacles.” He reiterated the GOZ’s
priority on combating HIV/AIDS and pledged legislation to
curb domestic violence and victimization of women and
¶6. (SBU) None of the MDC’s delegation of 41 attended the
opening. Party Secretary-General Welshman Ncube told the
Embassy it was boycotting the session, consistent with the
June 9-10 stay-away it was supporting with civil society to
protest Operation Restore Order. Also absent from the
opening was independent MP and former Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo, who reportedly was on an Air Zimbabwe flight
that made an emergency landing at Johannesburg on June 8.
¶7. (C) There was little new or encouraging in this address.
The prominent condemnation of the West contrasts with
Mugabe’s notably more moderate parliamentary opening last
year and undoubtedly reflects pique at our condemnation of
the election. Mugabe’s portrayal of the economy and his
economic prescriptions are pure fantasy. The huge municipal
working capital fund, for example, was announced just before
the March 31 election but none of the mayors we know have
seen a dime of it nor do they have any expectation they will.
Mugabe laid down the indigenization marker in last year’s
speech and it is not clear how or when the government intends
to follow through on it. Nonetheless, its mere mention, like
so much else in the speech and GOZ policy in general,
underscores the government,s penchant for micromanagement
and its unwillingness to countenance any meaningful political
or economic reforms.
¶8. (C) Recently rumored to be ill or dead, Mugabe appeared
to be fit and steady in his delivery. Also rumored to be ill
or dead, Vice President Joseph Msika joined fellow Vice
President Joyce Mujuru in attendance.