Was Grace prophetic about Tsvangirai?


First Lady Grace Mugabe who had largely shied away from politics took centre stage after her husband was defeated in the first round of the presidential elections in 2008 by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and vowed that Tsvangirai would never step foot inside the State House.

Tsvangirai hasn’t up to now though he was named the country’s Prime Minister nine months after her statement. Zimbabwe has two State Houses. One was originally for the executive Prime Minister and the other for the ceremonial president.

Addressing a rally in Mashonaland Central on 28 May 2008, Grace said: “Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step foot inside the State House.”

“He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State House from people who have been there. Even if [Mugabe] loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from ZANU-PF.”


Full cable:

Viewing cable 08HARARE477,

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Reference ID






2008-06-02 13:13

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

R 021313Z JUN 08


























E.O. 12958: N/A


SUBJ: ZIM NOTES 5-30-2008


– …But Remains Divided

– Visit to Mashonaland East Reveals Fearful Populace

– Government Propaganda Aimed At U.S. Ambassadors

– Zim First Lady Slams Opposition

– International NGO Operations Suspended

– VOA Expands Studio 7 Broadcasts

– PEPFAR Strategy On Track

– Bad Week For African Dictators

– Zimbabwe Dollar Swoons

– May Inflation Tops 1 Million Percent

– Tourism Prices Liberalized

– High Market Liquidity

– Cotton Crop Up



Price Movements-Exchange Rate

and Selected Products



2. Parallel rate for cash diverged further, at ZW$650 million:

US$1, from inter-bank average of Z$529 million: US$1

Bank transfer rate jumped to: Z$800 million; official rate:

ZW$$30,000: US$1


Sugar rose to Z$800 million/2kg vs. controlled price of Z$8



Cooking oil increased to Z$1.3 million/750ml vs. controlled price of

Z$9.3 million/750ml


Petrol and diesel rose to Z$920million/liter vs. controlled price of




On the Political/Social Front



3. Opposition Returns To Campaign Mode… On May 27, MDCyH!Q%~situation


in Zimbabwe and outline his party’s response. Tsvangirai stated

that over 50 people have been killed and at least 25,000 displaced

since the March 29 elections. In response, Tsvangirai announced the

launch of the President’s Fund for Victims of Violence, intended to

assist Zimbabweans impacted by the recent surge in

government-sponsored attacks. Tsvangirai repeatedly drove home what

appears to be the MDC’s mantra for the campaigning days ahead: “The

rebuilding of Zimbabwe begins now.” See Harare 470.


4. …But Remains Divided… On May 29, Morgan Tsvangirai and

former independent candidate Simba Makoni held separate briefings in

which they discussed violence, the June 27 run-off election, and

their perspectives on a government of national unity (GNU).

Significant differences in their respective positions indicate that

a united opposition will not be immediately achieved. Both deplored

ongoing violence, but Tsvangirai laid the blame at the feet of

ZANU-PF, while Makoni stated that both ZANU-PF and the MDC were

responsible. Both men called for a GNU to be convened as soon as

possible, but Tsvangirai proposed a broad GNU under an MDC mandate,

while Makoni suggested it be formed from all “key constituencies.”

While Tsvangirai focused on creating a benign electoral environment,

Makoni stated that holding the contest would be disastrous for the

Zimbabwe; he advocated a two to five year transitional government

with elections to follow. See Harare 473.


5. Visit to Mashonaland East Reveals Fearful Populace… Mission

staff visited the town of Murewa, scene of significant ZANU-PF

directed violence, the day after Morgan Tsvangirai presided over a

funeral there for MDC provincial secretary Shepherd Jani, who was

brutally murdered last week. Residents were visibly on edge and

reluctant to talk. At a nearby rural Catholic mission, medical

staff and clergy related that the local ZANU-PF chairman, who lost

his seat as counselor in the March 29 election, had been holding

political meetings and threatening those who did not attend. One

meeting was held on the grounds of the mission over objections of

the church and the local governor. Mission staff also met with one

victim of the violence – a 37-year-old woman – who had been beaten

with sticks by a group of about 20 people, including some women.

She and her husband were both known MDC supporters. While doctors

feared her husband’s leg was broken, their x-ray machine had been

broken for a month and they could not afford the imported parts to

fix it. Local NGOs were working to bring the couple to Harare for

additional treatment.


6. Government Propaganda Aimed At U.S. Ambassador… In a front

page story on May 28, the government mouthpiece The Herald reported

that “United States Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Kelly Diskin

sneaked into Zimbabwe” from Botswana for 14 days of secret

consultations with Ambassador McGee. The newspaper published U.S.

diplomatic passport and license plate numbers, which they claimed

belonged to the Ambassador. In reality, Patrick Diskin is USAID’s

Regional Food for Peace Program Coordinator based in Pretoria.

Diskin was on a routine visit to assist USAID/Zimbabwe in monitoring

the implementation humanitarian food assistance programs, which

provided US$171 million worth of food to Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable

individuals in the last year. The U.S. Ambassador to South Africa

is, of course, Eric M. Bost. The report came on the heels of May 25

threats by Mugabe to expel Ambassador McGee if he continued to

“meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.”


7. Zim First Lady Slams Opposition… First Lady of Zimbabwe Grace

Mugabe took a shot at Morgan Tsvangirai during a May 28 trip to

Mashonaland Central with her husband to meet with victims of

political violence mostly perpetrated by, according to ZANU-PF

propaganda, the MDC. “Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan

Tsvangirai will never step foot inside the State House,” she stated.

“He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State

House from people who have been there. Even if [Mugabe] loses, he

will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu-PF.”

The First Lady donated building supplies, clothes, food, and money

to affected town residents at a rally just weeks ahead of the June

27 run-off.


8. International NGO Operations Suspended… The Minister of

Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare, Nicolas Goche, has

instructed the NGO CARE to suspend its humanitarian food aid

operations indefinitely until investigations about “political

activities” are completed. CARE is a key implementing partner of

USAID’s food aid program.   The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in

Harare reported to an OCHA/Donor Group meeting on May 29 that

several additional NGOs would be called to a meeting with the

Minister on June 2, and that it was possible they would be

suspended. While not completely closing down or cancelling

agreements with NGOs, the government is showing hostility toward any

agency that it suspects is providing material assistance to

communities that voted against ZANU-PF in the March 29 elections.

The current early post-harvest season should mitigate the impact of

a suspension of food aid distributions, and no large scale

distributions are typically conducted until August. However, there

are already reports of maize scarcity in some areas, and a prolonged

suspension could have dire consequences for the beneficiaries of

CARE and other NGOs.


9. VOA Expands Studio 7 Broadcasts… In an effort to increase

opportunities for Zimbabweans to receive independent news reports

during the election period, VOA will begin repeat coverage of its

highly popular Studio 7 radio broadcasts immediately following its

normal program. The expanded coverage will begin June 1.


10. PEPFAR Strategy On Track… A May portfolio review and

strategy appraisal by the U.S. PEPFAR Zimbabwe Team revealed that in

spite of increasing economic degradation and political unrest, the

HIV program and strategy are on track. For the near term, the team

assumes that political conditions will limit partners’ abilities to

travel to certain areas and to conduct some outreach activities.

However, these limits are expected to wax and wane in different

geographic areas, and overall program momentum is expected to be

maintained in the current environment. The team also formulated

“good case” and “worse case” scenarios to respond to the potential

for a changed operating environment.


11. Bad Week For African Dictators… Ethiopia’s Supreme Court

sentenced former president Mengistu Haile Mariam to death this week

for mass murder during his 17-year rule. Mengistu has been living

in comfortable exile in Zimbabwe under the protection of Robert

Mugabe. The international press also reported the arrest of

Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice president of the Democratic Republic

of Congo, in Belgium earlier this week on a war crimes warrant from

the International Criminal Court. The warrant covers alleged

offences against the civilian population of the Central African

Republic in 2002 and 2003, including rape, torture, and outrages

upon personal dignity.



On the Economic and Business Front



12. Zimbabwe Dollar Swoons… The local currency continued to sing

the blues on the parallel market. In the past week, the Zim dollar

fell by 33.8 percent from Z$430 million: US$1 to Z$650 million:

US$1. Demand for foreign exchange keeps outstripping supply and the

government is beginning to raise concerns over the rapid rate of

depreciation. Addressing journalists in Harare on May 27, the

Minister of Finance stated that while the liberalization of the

foreign exchange market had some benefits, it had also resulted in a

number of hardships. This is hardly surprising since the costs of

any exchange rate depreciation are front-loaded while the benefits

take longer to appear as economic agents wait to see whether the

policy change will last. As ZANU-PF enters a spending frenzy ahead

of the presidential election runoff, we predict no let up in the

slide over the next weeks.


13. May Inflation Tops 1 Million Percent… According to the

Zimbabwe Independent, leaked Central Statistical Office figures show

that the official rate of inflation increased from 732,604 percent

in April to 1,694,000 percent between May 1 and May 23. An unnamed

senior official in the Ministry of Finance reportedly stated that

the government has now forecast the figure to reach between 1.8

million and 2 million percent for the entire month of May.

14. Tourism Prices Liberalized… Following the partial

liberalization of the foreign exchange market, the National Incomes

and Pricing Commission (NIPC) decontrolled prices in the tourism

sector this month to increase viability of the players. Prior to

this, players were paying for their imports at the parallel rate but

forced to use the highly overvalued official rate in terms of their

pricing. The private sector-led Zimbabwe Council of Tourism hailed

the policy shift for finally taking international pricing formulae

into account.


15. High Market Liquidity… High liquidity has characterized the

money market in recent months, with daily surpluses averaging Z$600

trillion (US$1,721,664 at the average street rate for May). Our

banking contacts blame the imbalance on, among other factors, the

quasi-fiscal (i.e. off-budget) activities of the Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe (RBZ)-in particular, concessionary financing; private

companies offloading foreign exchange onto the market at the

inter-bank rate; tobacco financing on the auction floors; and

increased government spending prior to the impending election

runoff. Once again, commercial banks are bearing the cost by being

forced to park their surpluses in 90-day non-negotiable certificates

of deposit (NNCDs) that do not earn interest. As a result, money

market interest rates have remained subdued at 50-150 percent per



16. Cotton Crop Up… The preliminary forecast for 2008 seed

cotton production is 300,000 MT, an increase of 18.1percent from

last year’s crop, according to the annual Zimbabwe Cotton and

Products report published by the USDA FAS Global Agriculture

Information Network. The industry plans to expand production

further by increasing the area planted and recruiting new farmers.

In 2007, Zimbabwe earned over US$120 million from the export of

about 86,000MT (395,000 bales) of cotton lint, second only to

tobacco as an export crop. About 300,000 small scale farmers

produce 99.2 percent of the crop.



Quote of the Week



17. From Front Page Story In The Herald of May 26:

“I am told that [Ambassador McGee] says he foughtin Vietnam;

fighting in Vietnam does not give hi the right to be interfering in

our domestic affirs. Tall as he is, if he continues doing that, I

will kick him out…I am just waiting to see if hemakes one more

step wrong. He will get out. Thisis Zimbabwe, it is not an

extension of the Unite States.”




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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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