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Cablegate: Little New in Mugabe's Opening of Parliament

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001206

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON ZI
SUBJECT: LITTLE NEW IN MUGABE'S OPENING OF PARLIAMENT

REF: (A) HARARE 1157 (B) HARARE 1067

1. (U) In his remarks opening the fifth and final session of
the country's fifth parliament, President Mugabe projected
familiar GOZ refrains: good harvests assured adequate food
supplies into the next season; the nation's economy was
recovering; ongoing land acquisitions would meet the
population's demand for land; corruption was being addressed.
Castigating the business sector for its "neocolonial
dependence" on Western markets, Mugabe advocated orientation
to developing country markets that were "doing better" than
the "risky ... declining" West. Stricter regulation and
better pricing policies would boost the economy, with
parastatals providing the "cutting edge" of renewed
productivity. Mugabe pledged to "indigenize" the
conservancy/wildlife ranch and mineral sectors, and announced
the planned introduction to parliament of a bill establishing
a framework for a "more comprehensive and systematic economic
empowerment and indigenization program."

2. (U) Warning that NGOs had to work "for the betterment of
the country, not against it," the President confirmed GOZ
plans to scrap its private voluntary organization law for a
new NGO law to "rationalize macro-management of all NGOs."
He also urged support for the electoral reform bill that was
being drafted consistent with "ongoing consultations on
developing regional election norms and standards for SADC."
(reftels) The jurisdiction of chiefs in the area of
customary law administration would be expanded. To address a
host of national challenges, the parliament would pass bills
creating new commissions, boards or councils in the areas of
health services, education, and youth development. Resources
were pledged to refurbish the government's broadcasting
facilities and to build a new house for parliament.

2. (SBU) COMMENT: Employing high-brow English and no local
dialect, the address was dressed up for elite and diplomatic
audiences but did not depart substantively from already
charted courses. Mugabe's failure to mention purported sins
of the MDC or traditionally identified foreign "enemies"
probably reflected his self-imposed distance from them more
than any desire not to offend. Wider indigenization efforts
and greater regulation of NGOs are long-standing ruling party
objectives that have been raised loudly and frequently before
with little GOZ follow-through; NGO regulation may get some
real attention during this session (to be reported septel).
The establishment of new public bodies rather than meaningful
policy prescriptions testifies to a dearth of ideas, debate
or genuine interest within the ruling party leadership about
how to tackle the innumerable fundamental challenges facing
the nation.
SULLIVAN

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