Government tries to use farmers to ease sanctions

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made initiated a series of conversations with the Commercial Famers Union from January 2003 but CFU president Colin Cloete felt the minister’s main aim was to get Britain and the United States to ease sanctions on Zimbabwe’s elite.

Cloete said his impressions after a series of meetings with several high ranking government ministers including Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was that sanctions were having a biting effect on Zimbabwe’s elite.

“The message being broadcast to the CFU, over and over again, is that they must assist the GOZ in removing the sanctions and decreasing the international censure of Zimbabwe's government,” a cable released by Wikileaks says.

“Cloete also believes that the GOZ is extremely ‘touchy’ about increased US attention to the situation in Zimbabwe.

“According to Cloete, the ministers with whom he spoke believe that ‘the British are great talkers, but the Americans mean action.’ Cloete reported that every time the US is mentioned -- for instance, when the CFU broached the idea about approaching a broader group of donors on the question of compensation -- GOZ representatives respond with clear uneasiness and discomfort.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE239, GOZ OVERTURES TO COMMERCIAL FARMERS: "WHITEWASH"

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE239

2003-02-04 12:35

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 02 HARARE 000239

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2008

TAGS: ECON EAGR PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ OVERTURES TO COMMERCIAL FARMERS: "WHITEWASH"

 

 

Classified By: Laboff KRBel for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: Recent conversations with Commercial

Farmers' Union (CFU) President Colin Cloete indicate that GOZ

overtures to remaining white farmers constitute "whitewash"

and meaningless window-dressing. Commercial farms continue

to receive final notices of compulsory acquisition, despite

public assertions that "the land resettlement program is now

complete," and that farmers with standing crops would not be

ousted. No concessions have been made to commercial farmers,

and no credible offers have been made to return commercial

farmers to the land. Minister of Lands, Agriculture and

Resettlement Joseph Made's key goal appears to be securing

public support from Zimbabwe's white farmers in increasing

pressure on Great Britain toward two goals: funding

compensation schemes and reducing international censure of

Zimbabwe. End summary.

 

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

Minister of Lands Initiates Contact

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

 

2. (C) After a total communications freeze-out between the

commercial farmers and the GOZ, Made has initiated all recent

meetings, which have been widely publicized in the

GOZ-controlled press.   During the first ice-breaking January

meeting, Made urged Cloete to "release" farming equipment --

some of which has been warehoused by farmers hoping to return

to their livelihood -- to the resettled farmers. Cloete

demurred, pointing out that the equipment in question was

private property belonging to individuals rather than the

CFU, and noting that most farmers were hoping to return to

their property under the one-man, one-farm policy. Made was

dismissive of the pointed reference to the GOZ's failure to

implement that policy, stating "That's an interesting point,"

as he quickly changed the subject.

 

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

Key GOZ Concern is for CFU "Statement" of Solidarity

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

 

3. (C) Made soon revealed his hidden agenda. Made insisted

to Cloete that Great Britain must be made to accept its

responsibility to pay for the land reform program at any

cost. Made stated that he wanted the CFU to "put a team

together" in order to state its support of the GOZ's land

reform program, its condemnation for the British refusal to

pay compensation, and its willingness to engage other

governments to build international pressure against Britain's

"demonisation" of Zimbabwe. Cloete was noncommital regarding

this demand, stating that he was not free to make such a

commitment without consulting the CFU Council. Made urged

Cloete to obtain the support of the Council and to generate a

publicly supportive statement as quickly as possible.

 

4. (C) Cloete was subsequently summoned to a Ministerial

meeting set for the following week. On Monday, January 27,

Cloete met with a group of eight ministers which included

many of President Mugabe's inner circle, including Made,

Patrick Chinamasa, Joyce Mujuru, Ignatius Chombo, Elliot

Manyika, and Jonathan Moyo. Minister of Justice Chinamasa

insisted that the CFU make a public statement supporting the

GOZ's efforts to force the British to fund compensation for

the land program. Cloete responded that the CFU had

discussed approaching several international donors in support

of funding a neutral compensation program; Chinamasa replied

that he didn't personally care where the money came from, but

insisted that the CFU must assist in "de-vilifying" Zimbabwe.

Chinamasa's message was that the farmers have helped

"demonise" the GOZ, they must now help remove the

international pressure from the GOZ. Again, Cloete stated

that he would have to consult with the CFU Council.

Jonathan Moyo continued to push the point, asking, "Will you

make a statement after that meeting?" Cloete responded that

he would advise the ministers of the results of CFU Council

discussions.

 

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

Meeting with South African Minister of Lands

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

 

5. (C) Made's office once again contacted Cloete on

Wednesday in order to secure his attendance at a meeting

between Made and the South African Minister of Lands. Cloete

was unable to confirm attendance due to a court date

scheduled for the same day, in which the GOZ was pressing

charges that he had failed to comply with the Section 8

acquisition notice whereby he was ordered to vacate his farm.

However, after backroom negotiation and several phone calls

from Made and Jonathan Moyo, Cloete was advised to confer on

Thursday morning with an assistant prosecutor at the court in

Norton, where his case was pending. On Thursday, five

commercial farmers facing identical charges -- including

Cloete -- were advised that the GOZ had withdrawn the charges

of failing to comply with Section 8 acquisition orders.

Interestingly, the GOZ withdrew only the charges of "failing

to comply" with the acquisition orders, and not the

acquisition orders themselves. In any event, this fortuitous

holding left Cloete free to meet with Minister Made and the

SA Minister of Lands as scheduled. Cloete's most poignant

recollection of that meeting concerned the discussion of the

humanitarian and agricultural crisis. According to Cloete,

Made stated to his counterpart, "In Africa, our people are

used to hunger and starvation.... we will sit under a tree

and wait until this passes."

6. (C) Cloete's perception, based on that meeting and other

information, is that South Africa is "heavily involved" in

trying to reduce the international pressure against Zimbabwe.

According to Cloete, the SA High Commissioner (on Mbeki's

personal orders) has met with all of the Presidents of the

agricultural unions -- Cloete of the CFU, Silas Hungwe of the

Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) and David Mugabe of the

Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union (ICFU) -- during the

past few weeks. Cloete believes that Mbeki is trying to

build support for the GOZ in advance of the upcoming

Commonwealth Troika meeting on expulsion of Zimbabwe, as well

as the ongoing EU meetings to consider renewal of sanctions

against Zimbabwean ministers.

 

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

Still No Concessions to Commercial Farmers

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

 

7. (C) Despite the urgency of the GOZ's requests, it has

offered no concessions to commercial farmers. According to

Cloete, no CFU member has had his property officially

de-listed, no settlers have been removed from occupied

property, and no farmer has been returned to his farm as a

result of the GOZ's publicity campaign. In fact, the GOZ

continues to gazette new properties for compulsory

acquisition, and has done nothing to protect farmers facing

extra-legal attempts to evict them. Up to eighteen farms and

conservancies in the Midland region, including one owned by

an Amcit couple (reftel), received new Section 8 notices over

the weekend of January 25. The situation of the commercial

sugar cane farms in the lowveldt -- in which over 70% of

privately-held properties have been turned over to A2

indigenous Zanu-PF beneficiaries -- serves to highlight the

fallacy of GOZ claims that "farmers with standing crops will

not be disturbed." Additionally, the dairy farms, which have

largely been left untouched during the land resettlement

process, are coming under increased pressure. Ian Webster, a

dairy farmer with a herd of 1,000 dairy cattle and who

produces 40% of Harare's milk, has reportedly been forced by

Made to take an ARDA trainee into his operation. According

to Cloete, once the ARDA trainee is capable of running the

dairy farm, Made plans to seize the farm and turn it over to

President Robert Mugabe -- who has not yet claimed a farm in

his own name -- as a "present" from the grateful people of

Zimbabwe.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

8. (C) One of Cloete's impressions from this series of

meetings is that sanctions are having a biting effect on

Zimbabwe's elite. The message being broadcast to the CFU,

over and over again, is that they must assist the GOZ in

removing the sanctions and decreasing the international

censure of Zimbabwe's government. Cloete also believes that

the GOZ is extremely "touchy" about increased US attention to

the situation in Zimbabwe. According to Cloete, the

ministers with whom he spoke believe that "the British are

great talkers, but the Americans mean action." Cloete

reported that every time the US is mentioned -- for instance,

when the CFU broached the idea about approaching a broader

group of donors on the question of compensation -- GOZ

representatives respond with clear uneasiness and discomfort.

Perhaps this is an indication of the impact of USG

sanctions; in any event, Cloete believes this to be an

indication that the threat of USG action still resonates with

those in power. End comment.

 

SULLIVAN

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