in Stories

US embassy says Mugabe is ailing but in command

President Robert Mugabe seems to have been ill for quite some time. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Mugabe was quite ill way back in 2003 and had consulted a United Nations medical specialist.

His ailments included periodic convulsions and stroke-like episodes brought on by diabetes and a lipid disorder which affects the covering of the brain.

“He apparently suffered one of these episodes several weeks ago, although he never left the country,” the cable dispatched on 11 November 2003 says.

“Mugabe reportedly can be revived rather quickly on such occasions but does need to be under constant observation since he can fall or suffocate during the episode.”

The cable which was on tidbits about Mugabe’s life said he appeared to be in a hurry to have his “retirement” home completed but was being stalled by his wife Grace to whom Mugabe deferred on home issues.

“She constantly changed her mind, requiring major jobs to be redone over trivial changes in personal whim and with no regard to cost. The level of some ceilings had been redone four times, some floors twice,” the cable says.

The cable also said relations between Mugabe and Grace were sour and the couple had serious personality conflicts.

“The contractor said the couple had serious personality conflicts and were essentially estranged. They each had separate sections of the house and she insisted on having a separately metered energy source, an indication of paranoia the contractor said surfaced frequently.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE2252, MUGABE VIGNETTES

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2252

2003-11-17 13:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

 

171359Z Nov 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002252

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. DELISI, M. RAYNOR

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2013

TAGS: PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE VIGNETTES

 

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy offers the following brief

collection of personal tidbits on President Mugabe gleaned

from the UN Resident Representative here and friends of the

Mugabe family. The vignettes depict an ailing, egotistical

family man interested in leaving office but give no

indication of when he would be prepared to leave. END

SUMMARY.

 

Ailing But In Command

———————

 

2. (C) UN Resident Representative Victor Angelo on November

12 advised Ambassador Sullivan that Mugabe has consulted with

a UN medical specialist about some of his medical problems.

According to Angelo, Mugabe’s ailments include periodic

convulsions and stroke-like episodes (perhaps eschemia)

brought on by diabetes and a lipid disorder which affects the

covering of the brain. He apparently suffered one of these

episodes several weeks ago, although he never left the

country. Mugabe reportedly can be revived rather quickly on

such occasions but does need to be under constant observation

since he can fall or suffocate during the episode. (COMMENT:

Evidence on the nature of Mugabe’s health-related “episode”

during the weekend of October 25-26 and whether he left the

country for medical treatment remains conflicting and

inconclusive. END COMMENT.) The presidential motorcade,

witnessed periodically hurtling through city streets at 100

kph, always includes a marked ambulance. In any event,

Mugabe’s public appearances and reports of his behavior in

private suggest that he generally remains lucid and

assertive, albeit apparently frail at times, in discharging

the duties of his office.

 

Contractor’s Tale Exposes Ego, Insecurity

—————————————–

 

3. (C) According to the principal contractor (an Embassy

employee’s father-in-law related to the Mugabe family by

marriage) in the ongoing construction of Mugabe’s suburban

“retirement” home, Mugabe takes an active role at the

construction site. He noted that Mugabe has placed a high

priority on having the house ready to be occupied by the end

of the year and makes repeated comments in private

underscoring his eagerness to retire. Mugabe generally

visits the site at least a couple of times a week and has a

formal meeting with construction principals once a week to

review progress and to discuss issues. At the most recent

weekly meeting, the contractor noted that payment was not

being made in timely manner, a problem Mugabe personally

promised would be remedied quickly. (COMMENT: Although we

are unaware of other Mugabe family financial problems, the

ruling party is feeling the crunch of the country’s economic

collapse.   The party recently suffered a default judgment in

excess of one billion ZimDollars (USD200,000) over

non-payment of a contract for campaign t-shirts; the party is

working the judgment out with the ZANU-PF MP who owned a

controlling interest in the plaintiff. Still imposing at a

distance, the party’s 12-storey headquarters’ significant

deterioration exemplifies financial distress; visitors enter

a vacant lobby featuring unrepaired metal detectors and

broken windows. END COMMENT.)

 

4. (C) The contractor characterized Mugabe generally as

personable and reasonable in personal engagement. The same

could not be said for his wife, Grace, to whom the President

always deferred on home issues. She constantly changed her

mind, requiring major jobs to be redone over trivial changes

in personal whim and with no regard to cost. The level of

some ceilings had been redone four times, some floors twice.

Mugabe on occasion questioned the need for certain measures

until the contractor indicated they had been done at Grace’s

behest, whereupon he always accepted them. The contractor

said the couple had serious personality conflicts and were

essentially estranged. They each had separate sections of

the house and she insisted on having a separately metered

energy source, an indication of paranoia the contractor said

surfaced frequently.

 

5. (C) At a recent semi-social gathering sponsored by Mugabe

for the construction workers, an Italian sub-contractor took

the occasion to criticize Mugabe for “what he was doing to

the country.” According to the contractor, Mugabe responded

by terminating the contractor’s employment on the spot and

giving him a couple of weeks to pack his bags and get out of

the country. The pack-up period was a courtesy explicitly

given ostensibly because the contractor had family here.

 

Headmaster’s Tale Bespeaks Caring Father, Hectored Husband

——————————————— ————-

 

6. (C) According to the headmaster at St George’s School (an

Embassy employee’s family friend), where Mugabe’s son

attends, Mugabe takes an active interest in his son’s

education. Mugabe recently visited the headmaster to express

concern about his son’s performance. Mugabe told the

headmaster that he recognized that his son was not a good

student and suggested that he might benefit from repeating

his current class in the next academic term. The headmaster

agreed but urged that a decision be deferred pending results

of final exams yet to come. Mugabe agreed. Days later,

Grace stormed into the headmaster’s office screaming that she

was the only one who could make decisions about her family.

She accused the headmaster of thinking her son was thick

because he thought she was thick. She insisted that her

son’s repeating class would not be considered, which the

headmaster took as the final word on the matter.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) The Italian sub-contractor’s dismissal conforms to

the pattern of intolerance Mugabe exhibits toward anybody who

criticizes him in public or private. Unquestioning loyalty

remains more than ever the principal criterion for inclusion

in Mugabe’s world. The uncritical slavish devotion demanded

by his isolated world underlies the ruling party’s

dysfunctional policy-making and likely assures Zimbabwe’s

continued political stalemate as long as Mugabe is in charge.

Zimbabwe’s autocrat may desire to depart office; however, we

do not take his interest in changing residence imminently as

an indication that the circumstances are right in his mind to

justify retirement from office yet.

SULLIVAN

(25 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment