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Mugabe angry that white farmer cannot use land

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.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 02HARARE1254, DESPITE CORRECT WORDS OF AGRICULTURE MINISTER,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1254

2002-05-24 05:17

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 001254

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

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

TAGS: ECON EAGR PREL ZI

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-

value compensation.

 

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

Comment.

 

SULLIVAN

(6 VIEWS)

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