Was Mnangagwa promised post of Prime Minister?


The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was working secretly on a new piece of legislation that would seal plans for President Robert Mugabe’s succession by recreating the post of Prime Minister for Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2006-02-21 04:20

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 03 HARARE 000187









E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2015




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

debating legislation.


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.




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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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