CFU said plight of white farmers was improving

The President of the Commercial Farmers Union Doug Taylor Freeme said the pace of the fast track land reform had slowed since the demise of hardliners like Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

He said this was largely through the influence of central bank governor Gideon Gono who was trying to restore productivity in the agricultural sector.

Taylor-Freeme said he was close to a deal that would enable 30 idle white farmers in the Chinhoyi to return to farming.

These whites continued to occupy their farmhouses but there were settlers on their land which prevented them from commercial-scale farming.

Nationwide there were nearly 500 white farmers who fell into this category and he hoped the Chinhoyi deal, if successful, would become a model for other parts of the country.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE14, WHITE FARMER GROUP SAYS SITUATION MIGHT IMPROVE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE14

2005-01-06 13:36

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.

 

061336Z Jan 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000014

 

SIPDIS

 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CAPTION ADDED

 

STATE FOR AF/S

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

SENSITIVE, NOFORN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAGR PGOV EFIN ECON ETRD EINV

SUBJECT: WHITE FARMER GROUP SAYS SITUATION MIGHT IMPROVE

FOR ITS MEMBERS

 

 

-------

Summary

-------

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Doug Taylor-Freeme, the head of the

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), said the pace of fast track

land reform had perceptibly slowed. He attributed this in

part to the efforts of Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon

Gono to try to restore productivity to the agriculture

sector. He said he is also negotiating with the GOZ for the

return of 30 farmers' land in the Chinoyi region of central

Zimbabwe. Like 500 farmers nationwide, they were still

living on their farms but had been unable to commercially

farm due to the presence of settlers. He hoped an agreement

on Chinoyi would lead to deals in other regions.

Taylor-Freeme dismissed the GOZ campaign against individuals

who had received multiple farms as political score settling

rather than a real anti-corruption measure.

 

--------------------------------------------

GOZ Attitude Toward White Farmers Improving?

--------------------------------------------

 

2. (SBU) CFU President Doug Taylor-Freeme told Econoff January

5 that the ruling ZANU-PF appears to have become less hostile

to white farmers. Taylor-Freeme estimated that there was

currently a net loss of only one white-owned farm per month.

This rate is well below the rate in the early years of fast

track land reform and even down substantially from last fall,

when the rate was one or two farms a week.

 

3. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme attributed part of the change to the

fact that most farm invasions have taken place just after

planting begins in August. That said, he also credited the

influence of Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono, who

Taylor-Freeme believes is quietly fighting to bring

fast-track land reform to an end. Taylor-Freeme said Gono

brokered a December meeting between the CFU and Zimbabwe

Defense Forces (ZDF) Commander Constantine Chiwenga, where

the two sides discussed containing further farm invasions.

At the meeting, Gono pressured Chiwenga to agree that the

army should halt farm invasions by War Veterans and private

militias once commercial farmers had planted their crops.

Gono argued that the economy could not afford to lose crops

already in the ground.

 

--------------------------------------------- --

White Farmer Prospects May be Improving as Well

--------------------------------------------- --

 

4. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme said he is close to a deal with the GOZ

that would enable 30 idle white farmers in the Chinoyi area

(Mashonaland West) to return to farming. These whites

continue to occupy their farmhouses but there are settlers on

their land, which precludes them from commercial-scale

farming. Taylor-Freeme said nationwide there were nearly 500

white farmers who fell into this category and he hoped the

Chinoyi deal, if successful, would become a model for other

parts of the country. He noted that around 550 of 4,500

white farmers are still engaged in agriculture on a

significant scale, so this approach could potentially double

the number of white commercial farmers and that in turn could

help restore productivity to the agricultural sector.

 

--------------------------------------

But GOZ Corruption Remains an Obstacle

--------------------------------------

 

5. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme denied that Lands Minister John Nkomo is

aggressively reclaiming properties from multiple farm

recipients, most of them government insiders who were not

interested in serious farming but treated the farms as

weekend houses. He dismissed the GOZ's very public current

campaign as being directed against just a handful of ZANU-PF

figures, all of whom had recently fallen out of favor, such

as Information/Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo and Foreign

Minister Stan Mudenge.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

6. (SBU) An agreement returning land to the Chinoyi farmers

would be a significant step in the right direction by the

GOZ. It would mark a departure from land reform driven by

ideology and could herald more pragmatic, productivity-driven

policies. The success of this effort may very well depend on

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

TAGS: EAGR PGOV EFIN ECON ETRD EINV

SUBJECT: WHITE FARMER GROUP SAYS SITUATION MIGHT IMPROVE

FOR ITS MEMBERS

 

the extent to which Gono is able to maintain and expand his

influence with Mugabe. Gono appears personally committed to

more rational policies but cannot deliver without the

President's blessing.

SCHULTZ

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