- Category: Stories
- Published on Thursday, 23 February 2012 06:54
- Written by Charles Rukuni
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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.”
Viewing cable 03HARARE239, GOZ OVERTURES TO COMMERCIAL FARMERS: "WHITEWASH"
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
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
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
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
¶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.