Chombo among top officials asked to surrender farms

In what appeared to be an effort to portray itself as a clean administration in the run-up to the 2005 general elections, the government said it was going to take back farms from senior government officials who had taken more than one farm under the fast-track land reform.

The measure was said to be an implementation of the recommendations for a one person-one farm policy included in the Utete Commission Report completed in late 2003.

Those who were to surrender farms reportedly included Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Deputy Minister for Gender and Youth Shuvai Mahofa, Deputy Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructure Tinos Rusere, and former Mashonaland West Governor Peter Chanetsa.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE83, TURMOIL AND INTRIGUE CONTINUE IN RUN-UP TO ZANU-PF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE83

2005-01-14 09:40

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 03 HARARE 000083

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR D. MOZENA, B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: TURMOIL AND INTRIGUE CONTINUE IN RUN-UP TO ZANU-PF

PRIMARIES

 

REF: (A) 04 HARARE 2090 (B) 04 HARARE 2063 (C) 04

HARARE 2001

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Harare's headlines continue to be dominated

by tales of intra-ZANU-PF conflicts and a spy scandal in the

run-up to the ruling party's parliamentary primaries

scheduled for January 15. Plans to reserve a quota of seats

for women appears to be the method of choice for dislodging

candidates not favored by the party leadership, but with

primaries just a day away, the party has yet to release a

slate of approved candidates. Latest reports indicate many

party moderates will join hard-liners as casualties in an

exercise that seems geared principally to perpetuate

lock-step loyalty and top-down decision-making within the

party. Political violence here continues to be principally

within the ruling party, with more ZANU-PF supporters being

arrested each week. The GOZ has announced it is finally

repossessing farms from prominent figures who received more

than one farm under land reform. Finally, the official press

identified South Africa as the government implicated in the

espionage ring, but public details about the affair remain

scant, fostering rumors that continue to fan witch-hunt

atmospherics within the ruling party.   END SUMMARY.

 

No Candidates for Election Two Days Away

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

 

2. (C) As of January 13, ZANU-PF had yet to approve a final

slate of candidates for the party's January 15 parliamentary

primaries. State radio on January 14 announced that 48 of

the 120 districts would be contested in the primaries. The

politburo and presidium (the party's four senior figures,

including the President) reportedly had approved a final list

that would be publicly announced on the 14th.

 

3. (C) The nomination exercise has been hamstrung by the

intersection of a host of competing factors: fall-out from

the Tsholotsho debacle (reftels), recently announced limiting

criteria for candidates (ref A), the party's efforts to

implement a quota of thirty percent of the seats for female

candidates, and appeals by disqualified candidates. Latest

reports suggest the list of seats reserved for women will

effectively exclude not only controversial Information

Minister Jonathan Moyo, but a host of "moderates", many of

whom do not appear to have been associated with the

Tsholotsho confab.

 

SIPDIS

 

4. (C) Widespread disappointment within the party over the

selection process for primary candidates has sparked

well-publicized demonstrations, including one on January 4 at

the party's Rotten Row headquarters in which Election

Directorate head Elliott Manyika was prevented from leaving

until he pledged to consider protesters' demands.

Intra-party violence has continued to flare as well,

resulting in additional arrests (and, as with arrested

opposition figures, the speedy release) of ruling party

supporters.

 

5. (C) Complicating the situation has been the absence of

President Mugabe from the country through much of the

ferment; he returned January 12 from a brief official trip to

Tanzania following an earlier extended vacation in Malaysia

during late December and early January. In his public

addresses to party faithful, including an address to

protesters at Rotten Row on January 10, Mugabe urged the

party to rally behind candidates who were being selected

"according to the wishes of the people" ... within

"guidelines set by the party."

 

Senior Land Reform Beneficiaries Targeted

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

 

6. (C) The official press reported in early January that the

GOZ was taking back farms from senior GOZ officials who had

taken more than one farm under fast-track land reform. The

measures begin to implement recommendations for a one

person-one farm policy included in the Utete Commission

Report completed in late 2003. Officials forced to surrender

farms reportedly include Moyo, Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge,

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Deputy Minister

for Gender and Youth Shuvai Mahofa, Deputy Minister of Water

Resources and Infrastructure Tinos Rusere, and former

Mashonaland West Governor Peter Chanetsa.

 

Spy Scandal Remains Obscure; South Africa Publicly Implicated

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

 

7. (C) After the Ministry of Information publicly admonished

the nation's media last week to cover the espionage cases

"responsibly", local coverage generally has receded from the

front page and become markedly less sensational and

speculative -- essentially limited to a chronicling of

mundane aspects of court appearances and the like. During

the past week, the official media has reported on the arrest

of an unnamed official in the Ministry of National Security

and the flight of Geneva-based diplomat, Erasmus Moyo, in

connection with the widening investigation. The official

Herald newspaper on January 14 reported without fanfare but

in a front page story that Chiyangwa allegedly had been

selling secrets to South Africa, which it implied may have

been a conduit to other governments. An earlier edition of

the Herald noted that three MDC officials were being

investigated in connection with the matter, but our MDC

contacts have been unable to confirm that.

 

Rumors Fuel Ferment

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

 

8. (C) The soft clampdown on espionage-related reporting has

not stopped rumors from flying and contributing to escalating

fear and loathing within the ruling party.   Just before the

spy story broke, a business figure close to the party told

poloff that a rumor making the rounds in senior party circles

had Speaker of the Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa connected to

the UK's MI-5. An internet news service reported recently

that the probe was closing in on Mnangagwa, and another story

pegged Minister of State Security Nicholas Goche and Minister

for Local Government Ignatius Chombo as targets of the

investigation.

 

9. (C) Rumors also continue to circulate about the

Tsholotsho meeting that provoked the Old Guard crackdown

 

SIPDIS

against the Young Turks (reftels). Media contacts conveyed

privately to the Embassy, but have not reported publicly,)

that a meeting convened by some of the Tsholotsho

participants in Bulawayo the day before the Tsholotsho

meeting was plotting how to remove the President. The

conspiracy reportedly included Reserve Bank Governor Gono and

Security Minister Goche, and was known to President Mugabe.

A contact of questionable reliability told the DATT that

military officers were involved in Tsholotsho conspiracy,

which had amounted to the plotting of a coup.

 

Comment

--------

 

10. (C) We have found little to substantiate these rumors

and doubt their credence. Nonetheless, they are significant

as an indication of atmospherics in a party increasingly

consumed by fear and loathing within itself. Deep individual

insecurities and innumerable conflicting personal agendas

will continue to stifle meaningful intra-party debate and

drive more blood-letting built on misinformation campaigns

and back-room plotting.

 

11. (C) The breadth of the effective purge underway has gone

far beyond those implicated in the pecadilloes of Tsholotsho.

While the purge of Moyo and other hardliners is welcomed by

most inside and outside the party, other casualties include

"moderate" voices, such as former Tribune publisher Kindness

Paradza; respected parliamentary chairmen Lazarus Dokora,

Charles Majange, and Paul Mazikana; and Eddison Zvobgo, Jr.,

the heir apparent to his late and widely respected father's

powerful Masvingo Karanga faction -- all of whom enjoy

relatively good rapport with the opposition and have been

useful Embassy contacts. The common denominator among the

purged is their respective independent streaks, whether

hard-line or moderate. Their replacements generally will be

individuals of little stature or resources and completely

beholden to the party leadership to whom they owe their

positions. In sum, these latest developments conform to

recent trends that aggrandize Mugabe's stature and position

at the expense of all others in the party.

 

12. (C) The various sources and indicia of turmoil within

the party -- the Tsholotsho debacle, the espionage imbroglio,

farm take-backs, and primaries-related conflict -- are all

relevant to Mugabe's overarching priority of imposing

discipline within the party. Nonetheless, each to some

extent has its own impetus. Thus, developments will evolve

to some extent independently, although we expect the

leadership to try to shape them to advance overarching party

objectives. However, as these interrelated and complicated

developments continue to unfold and influence one another,

the possibility grows that they will spin out of Mugabe's

control.

 

13. (C) The latest developments reinforce Mugabe/Old Guard

dominance and suppress independent thought in the party but

are not without risk to the ZANU-PF leadership. First, the

alienation of so many significant party leaders and activists

may diminish the party's turnout at parliamentary elections

in March. Certainly, prominent coverage of ZANU-PF's turmoil

and apparent disarray by both the official and independent

press has not reflected well on the ruling party as it seeks

to sell itself to the electorate. The party's absorption

with its own crises also has taken the heat off the MDC,

which is taking advantage of the hiatus to quietly mobilize

its campaign troops without the concentrated official

suppression efforts that hamstrung it in past elections.

Finally, the environment is gradually becoming more conducive

to the potential emergence of a third party consolidated from

disaffected elements of ZANU-PF and the MDC -- a possibility

raised by bitterly disappointed ZANU-PF members some time ago

(ref C), although such a development still seems unlikely in

the short term.

 

DELL

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