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First Lady eyes farm with 27-room mansion!

First Lady Grace Mugabe was reportedly one of the more high-profile beneficiaries of the fast-track resettlement effort. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks the First Lady was reported to have chosen a farm roughly 30 km northwest of Harare which had a new 27-room mansion, valued at over Z$100,000,000 (roughly US $1.6 million), fronted by a 2 hectare “well-manicured garden.”

The owners of the farm were said to be a couple in their seventies. They described the house and grounds as their “lifetime’s work.”

The cable dispatched on 23 August 2002 says: “Mrs. Mugabe reportedly visited the farm last week, found it acceptable, and the couple was notified yesterday that Mrs. Mugabe would be sending people to fetch the keys for her.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1934, DISPLACED FARM WORKERS: UNADDRESSED HUMANITARIAN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1934

2002-08-23 09:42

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001934

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAGR ECON PHUM PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: DISPLACED FARM WORKERS: UNADDRESSED HUMANITARIAN

CHALLENGE

 

 

1. (U) Summary: The arrests and evictions of commercial

farmers continue, with most farmers being released on bail

with varying conditions. Some farmers are having their

Section 8 acquisition orders overturned on technicalities,

but this seems to be a temporary reprieve at best. The fate

of the farm workers on these farms remains in limbo, although

“war vet” pressure for retrenchment packages — with the war

vets reportedly retaining 30-40% of the remuneration for

their efforts — continues to complicate the situation.

Credible reports of well-connected and wealthy black

Zimbabweans taking possession of desirable farms from white

Zimbabweans continue to be published in the independent media

and through Justice for Agriculture (JAG), an agricultural

advocacy coalition. End summary.

 

2. (U) Although the momentum has slowed down due to various

factors — including, in some cases, the absence of relevant

landowners — arrests of commercial farmers are continuing,

and the GOZ-controlled press continues to trumpet that “there

is no going back on land reform.” The process continues to

follow the pattern of arrest and a brief stay in jail,

followed by a bail hearing and continuation of the

proceedings until a later date.

 

3. (SBU) Several farmers have used variations on the strategy

of opposing the preliminary Section 5 and final Section 8

notices of acquisition based on the GOZ’s failure to notify

other interested parties, as required by the GOZ’s own law

and regulations. Judges and magistrates in the lower courts

have had some sympathy for these arguments. In some cases,

the farmers are arguing that the acquisition orders should be

overturned since the bondholder or mortgage holder was not

notified of the GOZ’s intention to acquire the subject

property. In at least one case, a sugar cane grower

successfully argued that his acquisition notices were invalid

due to the existence of a water servitude and the failure of

the GOZ to notify Hippo Valley, one of the main sugar growing

plantations, which is also the local administrator of the

sugar cane irrigation scheme. Other farmers have

successfully gained reprieve by arguing that the GOZ could

not prove service of preliminary Section 5 or final Section 8

notices of acquisition on the farmers.

 

4. (SBU) Notorious war veteran Joseph Chinotimba, who led

some of the extortionate factory invasions as well as farm

invasions during the past two years, has reportedly been

hired by a wealthy Zanu-PF land recipient to forcibly evict a

commercial farmer who successfully had his Section 8 order

nullified by the High Court. Chinotimba, in his role as

vice-president of the GOZ-controlled organization Zimbabwe

Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), has been implicated in

extorting money from commercial farmers by coercing farm

workers into demanding exorbitant “exit packages” from

dispossessed commercial farmers — for a healthy fee.

Farmers Vince and Monica Schultz, who are still engaged in

forex-earning horticultural operations, report that

Chinotimba descended upon their farm on August 22 with a

group of Zanu-PF youth militia members to demand that they

pay astronomical retrenchment packages to their 135 farm

workers, and that they vacate the farm despite the court

order allowing them to remain. As in other reported cases,

Chinotimba is likely to retain 30% to 40% of each

retrenchment package for his efforts. Interestingly, the

farmers report that the beneficiary of this particular farm

seizure, Bright Matonga, the CEO of parastatal bus company

the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), has visited

the farm several times and informed the workers that since he

is now the owner, they would now be working for him —

obviating the argument that the workers have lost their

employment and are thus due exit packages even if the

Schultzes are forcibly dispossessed. The Schultzes have not

yet complied with the demand that they vacate their home,

although Matonga has threatened to return with a battalion of

militia if they do not.

 

5. (U) Grace Mugabe, wife of President Mugabe, is one of the

more high-profile beneficiaries of the fast-track

resettlement effort. According to a number of press reports,

Mrs. Mugabe has chosen a farm roughly 30 km northwest of

Harare which happens to be the site of a new 27-room mansion,

valued at over Zim $100,000,000 (roughly US $1.6 million),

fronted by a 2 hectare “well-manicured garden.” The

dispossessed couple, both in their seventies, described the

house and grounds as their “lifetime’s work.” Mrs. Mugabe

reportedly visited the farm last week, found it acceptable,

and the couple was notified yesterday that Mrs. Mugabe would

be sending people to fetch the keys for her.

 

6. (SBU) In all of this, the fate of the 500,000 or so

commercial farm workers remains unclear. Some reports

indicate that the impoverished people displaced by the newest

wave of GOZ actions could be as high as 100,000. Other

reports indicate that some displaced farm workers are

informally joining settlers on other occupied farms since

they have no food, no place in the communal lands, and

nowhere else to go. In an indication that the GOZ does not

want the enormity of this problem to be recognized, post

received yet another report that a tent city being erected by

an NGO outside of Harare for some of the dispossessed farm

workers was abruptly shut down by the Zimbabwe Republic Army

with claims that “This land belongs to us….” There are no

authoritative numbers, but the problem of internally

displaced persons is growing and the precarious situation of

these forgotten victims will undoubtedly be exacerbated by

the growing food shortages.

 

7. (SBU) Comment: Although the reports of displacement and

arrests of commercial farmers have tapered down, there is

little doubt that the GOZ will continue along this path.

Many commercial farmers remain determined to challenge their

forced removal from their property in the courts, and the

courts are displaying varying degrees of support for the

farmers’ arguments. However, police, settlers, and war vets

are showing no respect for court orders or judgments, and

their stance mirrors the GOZ’s pronouncements that it will

only recognize judgments with which it agrees. The numbers

of displaced farm workers could grow very quickly over the

next several weeks, and the international community should be

prepared to respond to their needs. End comment.

SULLIVAN

(44 VIEWS)

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