Mugabe thought the NGO bill was part of the Tsholotsho plot!


A confidante of President Robert Mugabe, Father Fidelis Mukonori, told United States embassy officials that Mugabe had decided not to sign the non-governmental orgnisations bill in its current form because he thought it was part of the Tsholotsho plot.

The Tsholotsho plot was supposedly engineered by a group led by former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and was aimed at blocking Joice Mujuru from becoming party vice-president at the 2004 congress.

The group reportedly favoured Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mukonori said he had approached Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Mnangagwa to kill the bill but when he failed he went to meet Mugabe and presented to him the views of the United Nations, the church and non-governmental organisations.

The catholic priest said Mugabe was appalled by the content and had decided not to sign.

It was unclear what the fate of the bill was as some reports said Mugabe would have to send the bill back to Parliament because he had not signed it within the stipulated 21 days.


Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE395, IS THE NGO BILL DEAD?

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Reference ID






2005-03-11 09:46

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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 000395







E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2010




REF: 2004 HARARE 2003


Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i. Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.4



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The controversial NGO bill (reftel),

passed by the Parliament in December, appears to have

effectively expired due to President Mugabe’s failure to sign

it by the constitutionally prescribed deadline. Some NGOs

remain concerned that Mugabe may yet sign the bill into law

and are acting accordingly. However, the bill’s quiet death

could be Mugabe,s latest sop to domestic interests and

international audiences in the run-up to parliamentary

elections. That said, the GOZ also signaled continued

pressure on the NGO community with the announcement that it

was investigating the accounts of 30 organizations. END




NGO Bill Signing Deadline Passes



2. (SBU) Section 51 of Zimbabwe,s Constitution provides

that the President shall assent, or withhold his assent, of a

bill within 21 days of its presentation to him by the

Parliament. If he withholds his assent, the bill must be

returned to the Parliament and cannot be presented to him

again without the support of “not less than two-thirds of the

Parliament.” Parliamentary staff has confirmed to us that

the NGO bill was date-stamped upon delivery to the President

on January 24 and that the 21 day period therefore ended on

February 14.


3.   (SBU) On March 1, Father Fidelis, the Jesuit provincial

for Zimbabwe (and a liberation veteran who still has regular

access to Mugabe), told the Ambassador that President Mugabe

had decided not to sign the bill in its current form.

Fidelis said he had unsuccessfully lobbied Speaker Mnangagwa

and Justice Minister Chinamasa to kill the bill and had

finally approached Mugabe personally. He said he had given

Mugabe UN, church and NANGO (an NGO umbrella organization)

critiques of the bill to read and that Mugabe had been

appalled by the content. Fidelis said Mugabe had concluded

that the NGO bill was a part of the “Tsholotsho” plot of

disgraced former Information Minister Moyo. Fidelis

predicted that Mugabe would either send the bill back to

Parliament for amendment or just let it die.


4. (C) Neither the GOZ nor the NGO community has given any

publicity to the bill’s fate since the expiration of the

signing deadline, and many in the NGO community still

consider the bill in play regardless of the constitutional

deadline. A representative of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human

Rights, for example, told us that they had been unable to

verify the date of transmission to the President (we are

seeking tangible evidence, e.g., a copy of the date-stamped

instrument). Moreover, some in the NGO community are

convinced that if Mugabe were to decide to sign the bill

belatedly, the Supreme Court would uphold his action

regardless of its unconstitutionality. Some have also

asserted that the President could effectively implement the

bill by Presidential decree even if a constitutional debate

were to hold up the legislation.



More GOZ Threats



5. (U) Meanwhile, the GOZ has publicly announced it will

investigate 30 NGOs for suspected misappropriation of US$88

million mobilized through UNDP after the GOZ made a

consolidated appeal to the international community for

assistance in 2003. The report asserted that the funds were

“deemed public funds because they were raised on behalf of

the Government and the people of Zimbabwe.” According to the

March 10 edition of the official Herald newspaper, Minister

of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Paul Mangwana

announced further on March 9 that the GOZ was going to

require all NGOs to account for all funds received from



6. (SBU) Among the 30 reportedly being investigated are

seven USAID partners — World Vision, Care, CRS/Strive, PSI,

Advance Africa, JSI, and DAI/Lead. Only two (World Vision

and Care) were involved in the consolidated appeal. All are

involved in overt humanitarian assistance in consultation

with relevant ministries, and would have no problem

disclosing programmatic and financial reports to substantiate

their ongoing work.






7. (C) Mugabe,s “pocket veto,” if it stands, may be another

in a series of conciliatory gestures on the part of the GOZ’s

in the run-up to the election. The Ambassador had made clear

in several meetings with GOZ officials late last year that a

veto of the bill would be seen by Washington as a positive

development. He had also intimated that ascribing it to

Moyo, Mangwana and other disgraced “young Turks” would give

Mugabe a face-saving way to kill the bill.


8. (C) However, the confusion and official silence

surrounding the bill,s fate may also reflect continued

divisions within the ruling party. Reserve Bank Governor

Gideon Gono has been an outspoken public and private critic

of the bill and even the ZANU-PF-dominated parliamentary

portfolio committee opposed its more draconian provisions.

Minister Mangwana, who was the bill’s principal architect,

lost his ZANU-PF primary and appears on his way out of the

Cabinet. His long-term influence is waning, which is further

undermining support for the bill. In any event, the NGO bill

already has served important ruling party purposes by sharply

chilling the pre-election environment for democracy and

governance NGOs even if it does not become law. Moreover,

many of these organizations are continuing to self-censor

given the uncertainty surrounding the bill,s fate — not a

bad outcome for the ruling party.


9. (C) Whether the NGO bill becomes law or not, GOZ attempts

to cow the NGO community will continue. However, given GOZ

concerns about its international image and Zimbabwe’s ongoing

humanitarian needs, there are limits. The latest development

appears to be more low-level harassment rather than a serious

investigation. In any event, it is consistent with

long-standing GOZ efforts to bring humanitarian assistance in

particular under more official control.



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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