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Who paid for Mugabe’s Borrowdale home?

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was paying for President Robert Mugabe’s 25-room mansion in Borrowdale Brook.

This was said by President Mugabe himself in an interview with SkyNews which had asked him if he was corrupt and how he had funded the construction of his mansion.

Mugabe said the builders were from Yugoslavia and the party was paying. He had received tiles and roofing material from the Chinese and timber from former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir.

A Malaysian newspaper quoted an opposition leader Lim Kit as being shocked that Malaysian funds were being used to fund the personal residence of “the dictator of a rotten and corruptible regime.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE882, MUGABE VISIBLY AGITATED DURING SKY NEWS INTERVIEW

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE882

2004-05-27 16:43

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000882

 

SIPDIS

 

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: 12/31/2014

TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR EAID ECON KPAO ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE VISIBLY AGITATED DURING SKY NEWS INTERVIEW

 

REF: PRETORIA 2332

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Controversy has swirled around President

Mugabe’s May 22 interview with Sky News. The fallout might

result in some turmoil within the higher echelons of ZANU-PF,

and some discomfort for Mbeki, but it is unlikely to affect

Mugabe’s domestic political fortune. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Sources inside Mugabe’s cabinet have said that

Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo opposed the interview,

while ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Nathan

Shamuyarira and Minister of Special Affairs for Land Reform

John Nkomo, supported it.

 

3. (C) The GOZ reportedly believed that by agreeing to a Sky

News interview with the President, the GOZ would get positive

treatment and Mugabe’s image would be bolstered before an

international audience. The deal almost fell through when an

initial Sky News team left with no interview on May 12,

reportedly on Jonathan Moyo’s instructions to the Department

of Immigration to request their departure. When Sky News

subsequently ran a balanced story on land reform that

concluded that history would judge whether the Zimbabwean

land reform exercise was right, the GOZ allowed Sky News to

return, probably anticipating that the tone of the Mugabe

interview would be “let history judge”. The actual interview

took a more “hard talk” approach. Although he made one

pointed comment directed at the ‘racist white mentality’ of

the interviewer, Mugabe remained articulate throughout. He

was, however, clearly agitated at times, caught off-guard,

and made a number of ill-considered statements that have had

repercussions.

 

Talks Not Necessary

——————-

 

4. (C) Mugabe said that because the MDC’s voice was heard in

parliament, interparty talks were not necessary. The

statement clearly contradicted the GOZ’s recent party line on

interparty talks, and did not jive with South Africa’s

longstanding rhetoric that talks are ongoing and are the best

route to political reconciliation in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s

comment apparently stirred some public reaction from the

South Africans (Ref).

 

Who’s Paying for Mugabe’s Residence?

————————————

 

5. (C) Referring to Mugabe’s retirement mansion in the posh

Harare suburb of Borrowdale Brook, the interviewer asked if

Mugabe himself were corrupt and how he had funded the

construction of a twenty-five room mansion. Mugabe, visibly

surprised, gave a somewhat rambling answer saying that the

builders were Yugoslav, but ZANU-PF was paying. Mugabe said

he had received tiles and roofing materials from the Chinese

and timber from former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir. A

May 26 article in the Malaysian newspaper Malaysiakini quoted

Malaysian opposition leader Lim Kit as shocked that Malaysian

funds might have been used to fund the personal residence of

the dictator of a rotten and corruptible regime. The same

article quoted Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph

Salang Gandum as denying that funds were given to Mugabe for

his house and saying that the government would check into the

allegation.

 

Plenty of Food?

—————

 

6. (C) Mugabe categorically stated after some prodding that

Zimbabwe would in fact produce 2.3 million metric tons of

maize this year, would have a food surplus, would not need

donor food assistance, and definitely would not buy food from

elsewhere. On May 26 Harare-based Australian diplomats

informed Emboff that the Australian Embassy in Harare had

issued visas to Zimbabwe Grain Marketing Board (GMB)

officials who were currently in Australia negotiating a deal

to buy wheat from the Australia Wheat Board through an

American brokerage firm. Emboffs are in possession of a

November 2003 memo from the local Jewel Bank to the GMB

confirming a US$80 million loan as part of a US$700 million

loan facility to purchase grain for Zimbabwe. The memo

states that part of the US$80 million would be for maize, and

part would be for wheat. The facts do not mesh with Mugabe’s

statements.

 

Trade Increasing or Decreasing?

——————————-

 

7. (C) Mugabe stated that contrary to published figures,

trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe had not declined by

15 billion Rand in ‘fact’, trade with South Africa had been

increasing for the past few years. The interviewer pointed

out that Mugabe’s statements contradicted published figures

which said that trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe had

declined.

 

Succession a Taboo Topic

————————

 

8. (C) Mugabe asked the interviewer who had commented on

succession. The interviewer said Jonathan Moyo had. Mugabe

said it was fine to discuss succession, but it was

unacceptable for ZANU-PF officials to jockey for position.

Responding in typical vitriolic fashion, Jonathan Moyo in a

Herald article on May 27, denied that he had conferred with

anyone from Sky News before or after the interview. He said

Sky News was a colonial mouthpiece that had continually

demonized the President and burned Zimbabwe through the fires

of falsehoods.

 

Comment:

——–

 

9. (C) This was not Robert Mugabe’s finest hour. Sky News

took off the kid gloves once it obtained the interview it

sought, and Mugabe suffered treatment to which he is rarely,

if ever, exposed, thanks to the captive government media and

his normal reluctance to engage with the international press.

Since the interview, Moyo has gone into full spin control

mode, hoping to shore up his own image which may have been

damaged by the association of his name to the succession

issue. Going a step further, the Zimbabwean Ambassador to

South Africa publicly castigated the South African media for

saying that ZANU-PF was not interested in talks with the MDC,

apparently denying what Mugabe clearly stated in the

interview. It is still unclear what the blowback within GOZ

will be, but it is unlikely that the stocks of those who

promoted the interview have gone up in Mugabe’s eyes.

 

10. (C) Continued: Regardless of the obvious inconsistencies,

any damaging part of the interview is unlikely to be

broadcast by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting

Corporation (ZBC). It is therefore unlikely to affect

Mugabe’s image with ordinary Zimbabweans who generally do not

have access to satellite television.

SULLIVAN

(52 VIEWS)

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