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.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1860, GOZ Seizes 4 White Farms this Week
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001860
STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
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
¶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
¶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.