Chombo announces ultra fast-track land reform

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo announced at the beginning of May 2001 that the government was introducing an ultra fast-track land reform programme that would see more than 35 000 people resettled by the end of the month.

United States embassy officials were however sceptical about the programme and said Chombo’s announcement made in an interview with the Zimbabwe Mirror was a clear indication that the government had no rational or thought-out plan for land reform or resettlement.

“The idea that the GOZ (government) can resettle 35 000 people by the end of May is patently absurd,” embassy officials said in a cable released by Wikileaks.

“It is also clear from this sketchy plan that resettled people would have to rely on their own resources for building homes and establishing villages. Given that the people being resettled are by the GOZ's own admission poor and landless, it is easy to see that they will not be able to construct more than the most rudimentary structures, meaning the mud and wood thatched huts they have been building to this point.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE1583, ZIMBABWE MINISTER ANNOUNCES START OF NEW "ULTRA

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE1583

2001-05-11 11:12

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.

 

111112Z May 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO6927

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 01583 111104Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AGRE-00 AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 COME-00

INL-00   DINT-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00

EUR-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00

IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02

OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00

SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 BBG-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00

PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /010W

------------------EA502F 111104Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8849

INFO NSC WASHDC

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001583

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR BWILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SD - DWELLER, AFR/SA - CPALMA,

NNEWMAN, AA/AFR - VDICKSON-HORTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/11

TAGS: PGOV EAGR PHUM PINR PINS ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE MINISTER ANNOUNCES START OF NEW "ULTRA

CONFIDENTIAL

 

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 01583 111104Z

FAST-TRACK" LAND PLAN

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D' AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR

REASONS 1.5 (B/D).

 

1. (SBU) IN AN INTERVIEW IN THE MAY 4-10 ISSUE OF THE

PRO-RULING PARTY NEWSPAPER "THE ZIMBABWE MIRROR", THE

MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL

HOUSING, IGNATIUS CHOMBO, ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOVERNMENT

OF ZIMBABWE (GOZ) HAD RECENTLY INITIATED A NEW PHASE OF

THE "FAST-TRACK" LAND REFORM PROGRAM, CALLED "ULTRA

FAST-TRACK", WITH THE INTENT OF RESETTLING 35,000 PEOPLE

ON COMMERCIAL FARMS BY THE END OF MAY. THERE WAS NO

EXPLANATION GIVEN IN THE ARTICLE REGARDING HOW THE GOZ

WAS GOING TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL, GIVEN THE WIDESPREAD

DISORGANIZATION, LACK OF PLANNING AND CORRUPTION THAT

HAS CHARACTERIZED "FAST-TRACK" UP TO NOW. CHOMBO ALSO

STATED IN THE INTERVIEW THAT THE GOZ MIGHT NOW

COMPULSORILY ACQUIRE UP TO EIGHT MILLION HECTARES OF

LAND FROM WHITE COMMERCIAL FARMERS. EVEN THIS WAS NOT A

FINAL LIMIT AS HE ADDED, "WE WILL SETTLE PEOPLE AS LONG

AS THERE IS A NEED TO REDISTRIBUTE THE LAND."

 

2. (SBU) MINISTER CHOMBO IS ALSO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE

INTER-MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON LAND RESETTLEMENT. IN

THIS ROLE, AND AS PART OF HIS CABINET PORTFOLIO, HE HAS

BEEN THE POINT MAN ON GOZ PLANS FOR PHYSICALLY

RESETTLING THE PEOPLE ON THE OCCUPIED COMMERCIAL FARMS.

IN THE INTERVIEW, HE STATED THAT THE GOZ EXPECTS THE

RESETTLED PEOPLE TO BEGIN BUILDING PROPER, PERMANENT

HOUSING FOR THEMSELVES AND NOT THE TEMPORARY HUTS THAT

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 01583 111104Z

THE OCCUPIERS HAVE BEEN BUILDING SINCE THE INVASIONS

BEGAN IN FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR. HE ALSO STATES THAT THE

RESETTLED PEOPLE ARE TO PLAN THOROUGHLY SO THAT THEY

ESTABLISH PROPER VILLAGES WITH RUNNING WATER,

ELECTRICITY, TOILETS, AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE.

HOWEVER, NOWHERE IN THE INTERVIEW DOES HE MENTION PLANS

FOR THE GOZ TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE OR

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT TO THE RESETTLED PEOPLE TO

ENABLE THEM TO BUILD NEW HOMES AND MODERN VILLAGES.

 

3. (SBU) THE MAY 4-10 EDITION OF THE "ZIMBABWE

INDEPENDENT" NEWSPAPER STATED THAT THE MOST RECENT

LISTING OF FARMS THAT THE GOZ HAS GAZETTED FOR

COMPULSORY ACQUISITION INCLUDES SOME OF ZIMBABWE'S MOST

PRODUCTIVE COFFEE AND TEA ESTATES, AS WELL AS PIECES OF

LAND IN THE EASTERN HIGHLANDS OF THE COUNTRY ON WHICH

ARE LOCATED TOURIST HOTELS AND TIMBER FARMS. THE LIST

ALSO INCLUDES LAND ALREADY OWNED BY THE NATIONAL

GOVERNMENT AND RURAL COUNCIL GOVERNMENTS. THE PRESIDENT

OF THE ZIMBABWE COUNCIL OF TOURISM, PEDIA MOYO, STATED

THAT IT DID NOT MAKE SENSE FOR THE GOZ TO ATTEMPT TO

RESETTLE PEOPLE IN THE MOUNTAINOUS EASTERN HIGHLANDS.

SHE POINTED OUT THAT, "RESETTLED FARMERS WOULD HAVE TO

SPECIALIZE IN GROWING PINE, WATTLE, OR OTHER SUCH TREES

FROM WHICH THEY WILL ONLY REALIZE A RETURN AFTER ABOUT

20 YEARS."

 

4. (C) COMMENT: THE NEW "ULTRA FAST-TRACK" PLAN, AS WELL

AS THE LATEST LIST OF PROPERTIES GAZETTED FOR COMPULSORY

ACQUISITION, AMPLY DEMONSTRATE THAT THE GOZ HAS NO

RATIONAL OR THOUGHT-OUT PLAN FOR LAND REFORM OR

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 01583 111104Z

RESETTLEMENT. THE IDEA THAT THE GOZ CAN RESETTLE 35,000

PEOPLE BY THE END OF MAY IS PATENTLY ABSURD. IT IS ALSO

CLEAR FROM THIS SKETCHY PLAN THAT RESETTLED PEOPLE WOULD

HAVE TO RELY ON THEIR OWN RESOURCES FOR BUILDING HOMES

AND ESTABLISHING VILLAGES. GIVEN THAT THE PEOPLE BEING

RESETTLED ARE BY THE GOZ'S OWN ADMISSION POOR AND

LANDLESS, IT IS EASY TO SEE THAT THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE

TO CONSTRUCT MORE THAN THE MOST RUDIMENTARY STRUCTURES,

MEANING THE MUD AND WOOD THATCHED HUTS THEY HAVE BEEN

BUILDING TO THIS POINT. THE LISTING OF PROPERTIES WITH

TOURIST FACILITIES ON THEM INDICATES THAT THE GOZ IS

EITHER BLINDLY LISTING PROPERTIES, OR THAT SUCH

PROPERTIES MAY NOW BE VIEWED AS POLITICAL PATRONAGE

PLUMS FOR TRUE SUPPORTERS OF THE RULING PARTY. THE

LIKELY TRUTH IS THAT BOTH FACTORS ACCOUNT FOR SUCH

LISTINGS. END COMMENT.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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