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Pressure on white farmers boiling

The vice-president of the Commercial Farmers Union Christopher Hawgood told United States embassy officials that pressure on white farmers was intense in October and November because government officials wanted to seize farms after crops were already in the ground.

He said four white farmers were losing their land per week but believed that the pressure would subside in December.

To cushion themselves farmers were staying clear of the Movement for Democratic Change and were building ties with elements within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Hawgood said they were sending weekly reports of farms that had been seized to central bank governor Gideon Gono but they did not believe that Gono had any impact on halting the takeovers.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE1860, GOZ Seizes 4 White Farms this Week

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1860

2004-11-10 14:53

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 HARARE 001860

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

SENSITIVE

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON EAGR ETRD EINV PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ Seizes 4 White Farms this Week

 

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet posting.

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)

officials tell us the GOZ recently accelerated its

acquisition of mostly-white commercial farms under fast-

track land reform, causing four CFU members to lose their

farms per week at present. However, the CFU officials

note in that in the last three years farm expropriations

always peaked around the October-November planting season

and, accordingly, they expect the acquisition pace to

slow in December. End summary.

 

500-600 Whites Still Farming

—————————-

2. (SBU) CFU Vice President Christopher Hawgood and

Director Hendrik Oliver called on the Ambassador on

November 10. They estimate that 500-600 whites are still

farming in Zimbabwe, down from 4,500 in 2000. Although

the CFU continues to lobby the Reserve Bank and Lands

Ministry for a moratorium on farm seizures, they

acknowledge that many dejected white farmers are

reluctant to invest in new output and may abandon their

farms after harvesting the current crop. Hawgood

believes that the remaining white farmers have survived

“by hook or by crook,” steering clear of opposition

politics and building ties to divergent elements within

the ruling ZANU-PF. He insists the GOZ took over Kondozi

Farm due to support that part-owner Peter de Klerk

provided to the opposition MDC. (Note: Kondozi was a

large horticulture exporting farm in the Eastern

Highlands and employed 6,000 workers. In an ultimately

unsuccessful bid to forestall expropriation, De Klerk

sold 52 percent of the farm to black Zimbabwean

businessman Edwin Moyo in 2003. The farm is now

dormant.)

 

3. (SBU) The CFU Vice President noted that GOZ farm

acquisitions have spiked in October-November over the

past three years because prominent GOZ officials want to

lay claim to farms after crops are already in the ground.

“The pressure at this stage is boiling,” he said.

However, CFU officials expect the acquisition pace to

slow again in December. CFU officials have also started

providing Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono with a weekly

report on allegedly unlawful seizures, but they do not

believe Gono has had much impact halting the takeovers.

CFU officials expect a dominant ZANU-PF victory in next

March’s parliamentary elections. They hope a less-

threatened President Mugabe will dismiss Agriculture

Minister Joseph Made, fast-track land reform’s main

architect, and impose a moratorium on future

expropriations.

 

Comment

——-

4. (SBU) Like many eternally-hopeful Zimbabweans, CFU

leaders believe the ruling ZANU-PF will adopt a more

moderate course after it further marginalizes the MDC and

consolidates its grip on power next March. The CFU,

however, is unable to point to any evidence to support

this optimistic prognosis. Time will tell whether this

is a sound policy or starry-eyed optimism. Under the

present leadership, CFU officials have began to restore a

relationship with the GOZ, by strategically

disassociating from MDC partisanship and seeking

increased access to moderates like Gono and Lands

Minister John Nkomo. Yet these CFU officials still seem

unwilling to address their broader image problem. Many

Zimbabweans in and out of the GOZ regard the CFU as a

white fraternity that never shed its Rhodesian

allegiance. The CFU could win enormous goodwill – and

possibly save some remaining white-owned farms – by using

its formidable skills base to assist emerging black

farmers (at least those who obtained farms before the

GOZ’s controversial fast-track land reform) and by

reaching out to the mostly-black Indigenous Commercial

Farmers Union (ICFU). It is uncertain, however, whether

the farmer body will move in this direction.

 

Dell

(14 VIEWS)

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