President Robert Mugabe was angry that a white farmer could not use his land to increase production of wheat and tobacco prompting Agriculture Minister Joseph Made to announce new drastic measures to speed up the land reform.
Made announced that the land reform was going to be completed by August 2002 and occupiers on delisted properties, conservancies church and civil group lands, A-2 model designated farms, and properties protected under bilateral agreements, would be removed and resettled on properly designated lands.
He said that commercial farmers would be entitled to a single farm and that if all farms were occupied, they would receive a new farm.
United States embassy officials, however, did not believe Made was sincere. They argued that Made’s untypical behaviour had been prompted by an unhappy Mugabe.
Mugabe had stopped at a farm owned by a white farmer and had been told that the farmer could not use part of the land because he had been served a notice to halt all agricultural activities.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1254, DESPITE CORRECT WORDS OF AGRICULTURE MINISTER,
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 001254
STATE FOR AF/S, AF/EX, HR/OE
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR 2037 JDIEMOND
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
RIO FOR WWEISSMAN
PRETORIA FOR AG ATTACHE
PASS USTR – ROSA WHITAKER
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON
E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
SUBJECT: DESPITE CORRECT WORDS OF AGRICULTURE MINISTER,
THE VAST MAJORITY OF COMMERCIAL FARMS AND MANY
CONSERVANCIES REMAIN OCCUPIED AND LISTED
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.
¶1. (SBU) In a message carried on state television during
the Sunday, May 19 evening news, the Minister for Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Development, Joseph Made, said all
the right things about formalizing the path forward in
the land reform and resettlement program. He assured the
viewing audience that the process would be orderly and
legal (the latter in terms of Zimbabwe’s recently enacted
laws that legalizes expropriation), and complete by end-
August. He also stated that occupiers on delisted
properties, conservancies, church and other civil group
lands, A-2 model designated farms, and properties
protected under bilateral agreements, would be removed in
coming weeks and resettled on properly designated lands.
He said that commercial farmers would be entitled to a
single farm and that if all farms were occupied, they
wiould receive a new farm. His meaning and intent were
clear and unambiguous, and at face value could offer
comfort to the dispassionate observer. However, the
reality on the ground, at least so far, is widely
separated from the rhetoric. There has been some
relocation going on, mainly in Masvingo Province, but
from diverse reports it has occurred on black-owned farms
claimed by party higher-ups or those already distributed
under the A-2 scheme (the indigenous, small-scale
commercial farming scheme). The independent press
reported that occupiers were removed from farms recently
ceded to the Speaker of Parliament (Emerson Mnangagwa),
the Police Commissioner (Augustine Chihuri), and the
Defense Forces Commander (Vitalis Zvinavashe). American
and German properties in the Save Conservancy, located in
Masvingo Province, are still listed and still occupied.
The press also claimed that at some properties the
settlers were resisting transplant, threatening to attack
if made to move and claiming the land as payback for
their vote for the ruling party.
¶2. (SBU) According to the Commercial Farmers Union and
others, no illegally-settled occupiers have yet been
removed from white-owned farms. We checked with the
German, Dutch and Portugese missions and the EU here, and
all of them report that, despite bilateral investment
treaties and government assurances of corrective actions,
no properties have been either delisted (as promised) or
cleared of illegal occupiers. The German Counsellor was
especially critical of the GOZ’s “lies and propaganda”,
saying that every German-owned property was listed
despite assurances that this would be reversed (two weeks
ago the German Foreign Ministry convoked the Ambassador
from Zimbabwe to receive only yet more hollow
assurances), and that use was being denied the owners
despite the clear language of the investment treaty
barring such appropriation without agreed-to, market-
¶3. (SBU) The cause of Made’s untypical behavior and
sudden message to the nation may have been an unhappy
Robert Mugabe. Two reliable but independent sources told
us that on May 18, the day preceding the Made message,
the President, returning to Harare from a funeral, made
an unexpected stop at a white-owned commercial farm
northwest of Harare that has been a large wheat producer
(by one account nearly 10 percent of the domestic crop).
The unannounced arrival of the extensive entourage caught
the farmer, a Mr. MacKenzie, by surprise, but he gave the
head of state a brief tour as requested. Mugabe pointed
to a 75-hectare field occupied only by some dagga huts
and wilted subsistence-style maize patches and asked why
it was not planted with wheat. The farmer stated that
under the new laws and having been served a Section 8
notice he had to halt all agricultural activities.
Mugabe reportedly became angry and directed his staff “to
sort it out”. When Mugabe asked the farmer about tobacco
preparations, the farmer again replied in the negative,
saying that bank loans were precluded now that he was
listed, that his present crop (already reaped) was his
last due to the acquisition notice, which could lead to
his imprisonment if he were to put in seed beds. Mugabe
reportedly told MacKenzie to go ahead with the wheat
planting, to which the farmer replied that it was already
past the planting deadline, and his irrigation pipes had
been stolen to boot. Mugabe reportedly again became very
angry and told his staff to rectify the situation.
¶4. (SBU) We have also heard that UN SYG Annan raised the
food/land issue with Mugabe in NY and was told that the
GOZ would be returning to implementation of its Abuja
Agreement commitments on land. We note that Made’s May
19 statement returned to Abuja language in sharp contrast
with is public and private language of recent months.
¶5. (SBU) Comment: Despite Made’s public utterances of
all the right words, the reality of government’s actions
on the ground, at least from our inquiries and
observation, remains distant from the Minister’s
rhetoric. At least 94 percent of commercial farm
properties have been listed, with foreign status making
no difference, and the remaining 6 percent are unlisted
only due to clerical errors, according to a contact of
ours at the Lands and Agriculture Ministry. We shall
watch keenly if foreign-owned properties are delisted and
desettled, as a number of American-owned properties are
currently subject to listing, occupation, or both. End