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Nkomo dodged ambassador on key issues

Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo left United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan baffled when he dodged all the key issues that the American envoy wanted to know.

Sullivan had asked Nkomo about the status of Hammond Ranch in the Save Conservancy and Twin Springs in Kwekwe, both of which were owned by US citizens.

Nkomo said he was not familiar with the cases so he was going to limit himself to general comments.

Nkomo was also noncommittal on the ambassador’s questions about the cancellation of the crop and food supply assessment mission and the status of dialogue between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change.

This prompted the ambassador to comment: “This is the third time we have raised dialogue prospects with Nkomo, who used to champion such dialogue privately and publicly. This time, Nkomo did not even bother to invent credible excuses for walking away from dialogue.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE801, AMBASSADOR SULLIVAN MEETING WITH MINISTER JOHN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE801

2004-05-13 13:16

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 000801

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/FO,AFIS

NSC FOR AFRICA SENIOR ADVISOR FRAZER

AID FOR DCHA/FFP LANDIS,CRUMBLY,MUTAMBA,PETERSEN

DCHA/OFDA FOR PRATT,BARTON, KHANDAGLE,MENGHETTI,BORNS,MARX,

HALMRAST-SANCEZ

AFR/SA FOR FLEURET,LOKEN,COPSON,MACNAIRN

EGAT FOR HOBGOOD,THOMPSON

PRETORIA FOR DISKIN,HALE,SINK,REYNOLDS

ROME FOR FODAG FOR LAVELLE,DAVIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2014

TAGS: EAID ECON PGOV PREL SENV US ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SULLIVAN MEETING WITH MINISTER JOHN

NKOMO

 

REF: A. (A) HARARE 00683

 

B. (B) HARARE 00768

 

Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY USAID DIRECTOR PAUL WEISENFELD FOR REASONS

E.O. 12958 (B) AND (D)

 

 

1.   (SBU) Summary. On May 10, 2004, Ambassador Sullivan

met with John Nkomo, Minister of Special Affairs in the

President,s Office (Lands, Land Reform, and Resettlement).

The Ambassador raised the status of the Government of

Zimbabwe,s (GOZ) land reform program with respect to

conservancies, the GOZ,s recent cancellation of the crop and

food supply assessment mission (CFSAM) that was being

conducted jointly with UN agencies, and the status of

dialogue between the ruling party and opposition. Minister

Nkomo was characteristically noncommittal on most issues,

even claiming ignorance of the GOZ,s cancellation of the

CFSAM. He indicated, however, that the GOZ was considering

entering into long-term lease arrangements (99 years) with

the owners of conservancies whose land was being

expropriated. End Summary.

 

 

2.   (U) Ambassador Sullivan raised with Minister Nkomo the

status of land from Hammond Ranch of the Save Conservancy and

Twin Springs in the Kwekwe district, both owned by American

citizens. The Ambassador noted that the Minister had been

active on issues of conservancies, including encouraging

private agreements between the current owners and indigenous

groups. Recent press reports, however, suggested that some

in the GOZ were pushing for more radical action, including

complete nationalization of conservancies. The Ambassador

pointed out that a more amicable solution would be better for

the conservation of wildlife and the environment, avoid

investment disputes, demonstrate respect for the GOZ,s

investment center agreements, and be more likely to bring

continuing investment in the conservancies.

 

3.   (U) Minister Nkomo stated that he was not familiar with

the details of these cases so he would have to limit himself

to general comments. The Minister,s office was in the

process of developing policy proposals on land issues,

including conservancies, which he was hoping to send soon to

Vice President Msika for approval. One proposed policy,

subject to senior approval, would be for the GOZ to enter

into long-term lease agreements (99 years) with current

owners of conservancies whose land was being expropriated.

Minister Nkomo stated that he hoped to keep things as they

are on the ground, without any further actions being taken to

dispossess owners, until the policy is cleared.

 

4.   (U) Regarding agreements between current conservancy

owners and indigenous groups, Minister Nkomo stated that he

is encouraging such agreements as part of a process to remove

tension and dissipate the emotional and racial issues

surrounding land. The Minister did not, however, indicate

whether any such agreements would protect current owners from

future government takings. Not having heard from American

owners with possible long-term lease arrangements, the

Ambassador confined his remarks to encouraging a solution

acceptable to the landowners.

 

5.   (SBU) Regarding the GOZ,s decision to cancel the crop

and food supply assessment mission that was being jointly

conducted with the World Food Programme and the Food and

Agriculture Organization (see Reftel B), Minister Nkomo

expressed surprise to hear of this decision. He said he was

unaware of this development and promised to check into it.

The Minister said he would imagine that there would have to

have been a Cabinet decision for such an action to happen,

but stated that perhaps it occurred on a day when he was out

of the office.

 

 

6.   (C) Ambassador Sullivan then raised the issue of

dialogue between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC,

noting that there was little talk in recent months about

dialogue. The Ambassador stated that he hoped there was

still an appreciation of the importance for Zimbabweans to

work together to address the underlying causes of the

country,s crisis.

 

7.   (C) Minister Nkomo acknowledged that there was a time

in the past when dialogue with the opposition was being

discussed, but indicated that events had moved beyond

dialogue for three reasons. First, the Minister stated that

the ongoing treason trial against MDC President, Morgan

Tsvangirai, and the MDC,s petition challenging the 2002

 

SIPDIS

Presidential elections created uncertainty that made dialogue

inappropriate at this time. Second, with the MDC’s decision

to support the call for extension of U.S. and EU travel and

financial sanctions, the Minister said the MDC was not in a

position to expect any welcome from ZANU-PF, let alone a

willingness to engage in dialogue. Third, with the scheduled

Parliamentary elections fast approaching, Nkomo said there

was an obvious need for all parties to move forward by

focusing on the upcoming election process. The Ambassador

responded that if elections were organized in the way recent

Zengeza by-elections had been held, they would do nothing to

resolve Zimbabwe’s political crisis, which Minister Nkomo had

said in an earlier conversation was necessary if the

country’s economic crisis was to be resolved.

 

 

8.   (C) Comment: This is the third time we have raised

dialogue prospects with Nkomo, who used to champion such

dialogue privately and publicly. This time, Nkomo did not

even bother to invent credible excuses for walking away from

dialogue.

 

SULLIVAN

(7 VIEWS)

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