Mutasa in final push land seizures

State Security and Lands Minister was in 2007 in the final push to evict the remaining 350 white farmers. There had been about 4 500 white farmers when the concerted land reform programme began in 2000.

The Commercial Farmers Union had documented about 50 incidents since the end of August where farms have been invaded, eviction notices served, arrests made, or farms visited in anticipation of future action.

Mutasa has publicly announced his intention to leave no farms in white hands.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE942, FINAL PUSH ON LAND SEIZURES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE942

2007-10-18 12:02

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2951

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0942/01 2911202

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 181202Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2038

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1735

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1610

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1739

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0376

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1019

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1368

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1796

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4225

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0860

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000942

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN AND L.DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ECON EAGR EINV ZI

SUBJECT: FINAL PUSH ON LAND SEIZURES

 

REF: A) HARARE 183 B) 2006 HARARE 1492

 

Classified By: Polecon chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 d

 

-------

Summary

-------

 

1. (U) The Government of Zimbabwe, led by Minister of State

for Security and Minister of Lands, Land Reform, and

Resettlement Didymus Mutasa, appears intent on evicting the

last approximately 350 white farmers (out of approximately

4,500 farmers when land seizures began in 2000). In the past

two months the government has stepped up eviction notices,

arrests, and outright seizures. The farmers have been

challenging the GOZ's actions on constitutional grounds in

the Supreme Court and in the SADC Tribunal. Also on the

legal front, a decision is expected soon from the

International Centre for the Settlement of Investment

Disputes (ICSID) in a claim for compensation brought by 12

Dutch farmers under the Netherland's Bilateral Investment

Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with Zimbabwe.

 

2. (U) The remaining farmers have significant support among

high-ranking ZANU-PF officials other than Mutasa and from

local officials. With minimal chances of success in the

courts, their best hope of survival appears to be through

political intervention. So far, President Mugabe has not

articulated a government policy.

 

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

Recent Background

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

 

3. (U) According to the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) (Ref

B), the majority of white commercial farmers still on the

land have complied with the GOZ's criteria to continue

farming: they have downsized and offered land for

resettlement, and coexisted with land settlers. In the past

two months, there have been renewed and intensified efforts

to evict many of the approximately 350 remaining farmers (out

of approximately 4,500 on the land when seizures began in

2000). The CFU has documented about 50 incidents since the

end of August where farms have been invaded, eviction notices

served, arrests made, or farms visited in anticipation of

future action. Mutasa has publicly announced his intention

to leave no farms in white hands.

 

4. (SBU) David Drury, an attorney for many of the farmers,

told us the legal basis for action against the farmers is

Constitutional Amendment 17, enacted in September 2005, and

the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act (the Act)

passed into law on December 20, 2006. Amendment 17

essentially makes all farm land subject to acquisition by the

State and specifically precludes legal challenge by anyone

claiming an interest in such land. The Act requires all

farmers not in possession of an official offer letter, lease,

or permit to cease to hold or use the land as of February 3,

2007. Under a government moratorium introduced in January,

farmers were given temporary extensions to continue growing

crops.

 

5. (SBU) According to Drury, under the moratorium the

government was required to analyze the crops on a particular

farm and grant extensions of specific periods to allow a

gradual "wind down," to include harvesting and sale of crops.

As a practical matter, the government in almost all cases

took no affirmative action to define the period of extension.

Farmers were encouraged by local officials and traditional

leaders, who recognized their value both in terms of

production and local employment, to continue farming; most

carried on with business as usual. Drury commented that

 

HARARE 00000942 002 OF 003

 

 

Mutasa's statement and recent actions against farmers had

brought the issue of white farmers once again to a head.

 

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

The Campbell Case

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

 

6. (SBU) Michael Campbell, a white farmer whose farm was

identified for takeover by ZANU-PF spokesman Nathaniel

Shamuyarira, filed a constitutional challenge to Amendment 17

with the Supreme Court in April 2006. According to Drury,

who is representing Campbell, there are three core arguments:

--The provision of Article 17 that extinguishes the ability

to go to court to present a legal challenge to the State's

acquisition of land is antithetical to the essence of the

constitution which recognizes fundamental democratic rights

and the rule of law; it also violates the doctrine of

separation of powers;

--The constitution requires compensation for improvements in

cases of acquired land. Since the government has not

complied with this requirement in any case of acquired land,

the entire acquisition process under Amendment 17 is flawed;

--Land acquisition under Article 17 is racially

discriminatory. Drury said he had surveyed other land

acquisition cases in the Chegutu district where Campbell's

farm is located. There were no cases of appropriation of

black-owned farms.

 

7. (SBU) Drury said the Campbell case was argued before the

Supreme Court in April 2007. In August, in the absence of a

decision, he wrote to the Court asking for one. He

emphasized the importance of the issues--if he was correct on

the law, there were continuing constitutional violations; if

the Court thought he was wrong, a decision would represent

the exhaustion of local remedies to permit an appeal to the

SADC Tribunal in Windhoek. In October, with still no

decision from the Court, Drury appealed to the Tribunal and

alleged that the failure of the Supreme Court to act

constituted an exhaustion of remedies. He admitted to us

that a land case involving white rights was not ideal for the

relatively young Tribunal's first case and he was not hopeful

of a positive result.

 

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

Current Eviction Cases

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

 

8. (SBU) Drury is also representing a number of farmers from

Chegutu who have been served with eviction notices pursuant

to the Act. The eviction notices were upheld by a local

magistrate and Drury is now appealing, on the same

constitutional grounds as Campbell, to the Supreme Court. He

was not optimistic when talking with us. He pointed out that

six of the seven Supreme Court justices were beneficiaries of

farms seized from white farmers.

 

9. (U) In a rare win for white farmers, a High Court judge

ruled in February that a brigadier-general who invaded the

farm of Charles Lock had not complied with the Act and

ordered him off the land. When he failed to comply, another

High Court judge in September held him in contempt.

 

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

The Dutch BIPPA Case

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

 

10. (SBU) In April 2005, 12 Dutch farmers who had been

evicted from 15 commerical farms filed a claim in the ICSID,

based on the Netherland's BIPPA with Zimbabwe. According to

Boyd Carr, a Zimbabwean attorney for the farmers, the GOZ has

admitted liability--it acknowledges the BIPPA and says the

seizures were a result of spontaneous uprisings--and has

 

HARARE 00000942 003 OF 003

 

 

offered to return the farms. The farmers--no longer in

Zimbabwe--are not interested in restitution but want

compensation. They are seeking 36 million Euros which

includes the value of their properties and interest. The GOZ

has not contested the amount of compensation, but says that

it will pay when able. (Comment. The GOZ has paid US$

225,000 to ICSID, its share of costs. An ICSID judgment

would presumably enable the farmers to attach Zimbabwe

assets, such as planes, outside of the country. In May and

June of this year, the GOZ paid off a US$ 44 million debt to

the U.S. Export Bank to avoid this very problem. End

Comment.)

 

11. (SBU) Boyd told us that the BIPPA hearing is to take

place in Paris October 30 through November 1. He noted that

there are about 100 former Dutch farmers awaiting the outcome

of this proceeding and who could potentially file suit. A

much smaller number of former German and Danish farmers have

potential claims; their countries, according to Boyd, also

have valid BIPPAS with Zimbabwe.

 

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

Politics Trumps Legality

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

 

12. (C) While Mutasa has publicly called for the eviction of

all white farmers, the GOZ's two vice presidents, Joice

Mujuru and Joseph Msika, acknowledging the importance of the

remaining farmers to the country's agricultural production,

have publicly responded that evictions should stop. Midlands

governor Cephas Msipa told us earlier this year (Ref A) that

he had lobbied Msika to prevent the takeover of dairy farms

in his province which provide the bulk of dairy products in

the country. Msipa also stated Midlands' black farmers

oppose further evictions; they are receiving both technical

and material support from the white farmers. And the CFU has

told us many of its farmers have the support of local

officials and traditional leaders.

 

13. (U) According to CFU officials, the opposition to Mutasa

on the part of other high-ranking ZANU-PF officials has

slowed the process against white farmers. But the farmers'

fate depends to a large extent on whom they know. A

connection to Msika, for example, or in some cases even

Mutasa, can result in cessation of an eviction process.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

14. (C) Continuing farm evictions are clearly inimical to

what is left of the economic health of the country. The fact

evictions are allowed to continue is yet another sign of a

misdirected economic policy. And the fact that there is a

continuing schism within ZANU-PF on such an important issue

is yet another sign of the disarray within the party itself.

Whether through design (to permit continuing patronage) or

through inattention, President Mugabe has not intervened to

articulate a government policy.

DHANANI

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