Confusion over farm evictions

Police evicted hundreds of war veterans from four farms near Harare prompting the veterans to march on the streets of the capital demonstrating against the government’s action.

The Commercial Farmers Union was so encouraged by the move that it withdrew its court action against President Robert Mugabe in order to preserve a line of dialogue with the government.

The United States embassy even commented that the “normally vitriolic” Information Minister Jonathan Moyo issued a relatively mild statement of regret for the police action, criticising the police methods but not the evictions themselves.

Moyo said the government was going to seek to provide compensation for the squatters whose makeshift homes were destroyed.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 00HARARE4695, WAR VETERANS REACT TO LAND EVICTIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

00HARARE4695

2000-08-24 14:54

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.

 

241454Z Aug 00

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2712

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 04695 01 OF 02 241456Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00

DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00

L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OMB-01  OPIC-01 PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   SSO-00   TRSE-00

USIE-00 R-00     PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00

NFAT-00 SAS-00   SWCI-00   /007W

------------------7D97AB 241456Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6925

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 004695

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/05

TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS ZI CG

SUBJECT: WAR VETERANS REACT TO LAND EVICTIONS

 

REF: HARARE 4662

 

CLASSIFIED BY AMB. TOM MCDONALD. REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 04695 01 OF 02 241456Z

(D).

 

SUMMARY

-------

 

1. (C) POLICE HAVE EVICTED WAR VETERANS FROM A NUMBER

OF FARMS THIS WEEK, PROMPTING TWO DEMONSTRATIONS BY THE

VETERANS THROUGH DOWNTOWN HARARE. EVICTIONS WERE

CONTINUING ON AUGUST 24, DESPITE AN UNCONFIRMED PRESS

REPORT THAT THE CABINET HAD CALLED A HALT TO THE POLICE

ACTIONS. THE COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION WAS ENCOURAGED BY

THE DEVELOPMENTS, BUT RESERVED JUDGMENT ON WHETHER THEY

WOULD CONTINUE. THE CFU WITHDREW ITS COURT ACTION

AGAINST THE PRESIDENT AND OTHERS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE A

CHANNEL OF DIALOGUE WITH THE GOZ, AND IS NOW TRYING TO

FIND FINANCING TO ENABLE FARMERS TO PROCEED WITH THE

PLANTING SEASON, BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 1. WHETHER THE

EVICTIONS CONTINUE WILL INDICATE WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT

IS SERIOUS ABOUT ENDING THE OCCUPATIONS AND RESTORING

THE RULE OF LAW. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) AFTER POLICE EVICTED HUNDREDS OF WAR VETERANS

FROM FOUR FARMS NEAR HARARE ON AUGUST 22, WAR VETERANS

TOOK TO THE STREETS IN THE CAPITAL ON AUGUST 23 AND 24

TO PROTEST THE POLICE ACTION. IN ADDITION TO THE

EVICTIONS REPORTED IN REFTEL, POLICE ON AUGUST 22 MOVED

HUNDREDS OF ENCAMPED WAR VETERANS OFF OF FOUR FARMS IN

KAMBUZUMA TOWNSHIP ON HARARE'S OUTSKIRTS AND TORE DOWN

THEIR NEARLY COMPLETED CINDERBLOCK HOMES. OTHER WOODEN

STRUCTURES WERE BURNED. STATE-RUN MEDIA WIDELY

PUBLICIZED THE ACTION, WHICH THEY SAID HAD BEEN ORDERED

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 04695 01 OF 02 241456Z

BY HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER JOHN NKOMO. ON AUGUST 23,

ABOUT 200 WAR VETERANS PROTESTED IN FRONT OF NKOMO'S

OFFICE, DENOUNCING HIS ACTION WITH PLACARDS AND CHANTS.

THE PROTESTERS PROCEEDED TO PARLIAMENT AND THE

PRESIDENT'S OFFICE BEFORE DISPERSING.

 

3. (U) ON AUGUST 24, THE NORMALLY VITRIOLIC INFORMATION

MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO ISSUED A RELATIVELY MILD

STATEMENT OF "REGRET" FOR MONDAY'S POLICE ACTION,

CRITICIZING THE POLICE METHODS BUT NOT THE EVICTIONS

THEMSELVES. MOYO FURTHER STATED THAT THE GOVERNMENT

WOULD SEEK TO PROVIDE COMPENSATION FOR THE SQUATTERS

WHOSE MAKESHIFT HOMES WERE DESTROYED. SEVERAL HUNDRED

WAR VETERANS TOOK TO HARARE'S STREETS AGAIN ON AUGUST

24, MOVING DOWN SAMORA MICHEL AVENUE IN FRONT OF THE

BUILDING HOUSING THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE AND THE FOREIGN

MINISTRY. POLOFFS WERE IN THE BUILDING AT THE TIME AND

COULD CLEARLY HEAR THE VETERANS' SONGS AND CHANTS,

SUGGESTING ZIMBABWE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE HEARING

THEM AS WELL.

 

4. (U) THE INDEPENDENT "FINANCIAL GAZETTE" REPORTED

THAT AFTER A CABINET MEETING AUGUST 23, THE GOVERNMENT

DECIDED TO END FURTHER POLICE ACTIONS AGAINST SQUATTERS.

THE GAZETTE SUGGESTED THAT THE MEETING WAS HELD AFTER

WAR VETERANS COMPLAINED TO MUGABE DIRECTLY UPON HIS

AUGUST 22 RETURN FROM MAPUTO AND THAT A NUMBER OF

UNNAMED CABINET MEMBERS WERE UNHAPPY WITH THE POLICE'S

HEAVY-HANDED APPROACH. WE HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO CONFIRM

THE GAZETTE'S REPORT OF THE CABINET DECISION, AND IN

FACT WERE INFORMED BY THE COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION (CFU)

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 04695 01 OF 02 241456Z

THAT SQUATTER EVICTIONS ARE UNDERWAY ON AUGUST 24 ON

FARMS IN MASHONALAND EAST AND MASHONALAND WEST

PROVINCES.

 

5. (C) CFU DIRECTOR DAVID HASLUCK TOLD POLOFF ON AUGUST 23

HE WAS ENCOURAGED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S ACTIONS, BUT

RESERVED JUDGMENT ON WHETHER THE EVICTIONS WOULD

CONTINUE. HE SAID THE GOZ HAD INFORMED THE CFU EARLIER

IN THE WEEK THAT ALL WAR VETERANS WOULD BE REMOVED FROM

OCCUPIED FARMS WITHIN 10 DAYS, SCREENED, AND ASSIGNED TO

FARMS IDENTIFIED FOR COMPULSORY ACQUISITION. NOTING

THAT EARLY SEPTEMBER IS A CRITICAL TIME FOR TOBACCO

PLANTING, HASLUCK SAID THE CFU IS TRYING TO CONVINCE

FARMERS NOT ON THE LIST OF 1,033 ALREADY IDENTIFIED TO

PROCEED WITH PLANTING, AND IS WORKING FRANTICALLY TO

SECURE FINANCING FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT. HASLUCK

INFORMED POLOFF THAT THE CFU HAD WITHDRAWN ITS COURT

ACTION AGAINST PRESIDENT MUGABE, POLICE COMMISSIONER

CHIHURI, AND WAR VETERANS LEADER HUNZVI IN THE HOPE THAT

THIS WOULD ENSURE CONTINUED DIALOGUE WITH THE

GOVERNMENT.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: THE EVENTS OF THE LAST FEW DAYS

INDICATE THAT THE GOZ IS STILL TRYING TO COME TO GRIPS

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2714

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 04695 02 OF 02 241456Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00

DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00

L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   SSO-00   TRSE-00

USIE-00 R-00     PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00

NFAT-00 SAS-00   SWCI-00   /007W

------------------7D97B2 241457Z /38

O 241454Z AUG 00

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6926

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 004695

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/05

TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS ZI CG

SUBJECT: WAR VETERANS REACT TO LAND EVICTIONS

 

WITH ENDING THE FARM OCCUPATIONS IN A WAY THAT IS

PALATABLE TO THOSE SYMPATHETIC TO THE WAR VETERANS. IT

IS STILL VERY UNCLEAR WHETHER THE GOZ WILL BE SUCCESSFUL

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 04695 02 OF 02 241456Z

IN THIS EFFORT. THE POLICE ACTIONS AND THEIR WIDESPREAD

COVERAGE IN THE STATE-RUN MEDIA HAVE CROSSED THE LINE

WITH SOME IN GOVERNMENT. MOYO'S MILD STATEMENT AND

OFFER FOR COMPENSATION, AND THE CONTINUING EVICTIONS IN

SOME RURAL AREAS COULD BE A SIGN THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS

NOT ABANDONED THE IDEA OF ENDING THE OCCUPATIONS

ALTOGETHER. WHETHER THE EVICTIONS CONTINUE OR NOT IN

THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND WEEKS WILL INDICATE HOW SERIOUS

THE GOVERNMENT IS ABOUT ENDING THE FARM OCCUPATIONS AND

RESTORING THE RULE OF LAW.

 

MCDONALD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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