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US ambassador says no government can reverse land reform in Zimbabwe

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan said way back in 2003 that though he felt that land reform in Zimbabwe was unjust and devastating to agriculture, he did not believe that any future government could completely reverse it or pay full compensation.

This is contained in a cable that he dispatched on 10 February 2003 in which he was comparing the two white farmers’ organisations, the Commercial Farmers Union and Justice for Agriculture.

The CFU, which was the main farmer’s organisation, wanted dialogue with the government while JAG was confrontational and said it would only talk to the government, which it considered illegitimate, after the restoration of the rule of law.

“The split among white farmers reflects diverging interests,” Sullivan said in the comment to the cable. “JAG members have mostly lost farms and wish to pursue title claims indefinitely in the hope of restitution or compensation; CFU members are often still trying to hold onto all or part of their farms.”

“If a successor government one day comes to power, JAG’s strident line could prove an impediment to revamping land reform. While we agree that land reform has been unjust and devastating to Zimbabwean agriculture, we do not believe a future government could completely reverse it or pay full compensation.

“The only way to make sense of the senseless may be a negotiated deal that returns white farmers to a portion of their farms, in exchange for them relinquishing title to the other portion and assisting new farmers.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE280, White Farmers Remain Divided

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE280

2003-02-10 12:55

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000280

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S AND AF/EX

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND

PASS USTR ROSA WHITAKER

TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON

DEPT PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAGR ETRD EFIN ECON ZI

SUBJECT: White Farmers Remain Divided

 

Ref: a) Harare 239 b) Harare 267

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Justice for Agriculture (JAG)

representatives told us they strongly lament the

willingness of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) to

engage the Government of Robert Mugabe on fast-track land

reform. JAG remains committed to dialogue with the GOZ

only after the restoration of rule-of-law. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) JAG reps recently updated Amb. Sullivan on their

campaign against Mugabe’s land reform. JAG says around

300 members have joined its ranks, which usually entails

resigning from the more moderate CFU. The organizations

differ more on tactics than assessments of fast-track

land reform.

 

3. (SBU) JAG takes issue with the CFU’s restarting a

dialogue with the GOZ, analyzed in refs a-b. JAG members

feel the GOZ is merely using talks with the CFU as a

means of persuading Western governments that a) white

farmers now approve of land reform and b) it is time to

lift sanctions and support resettled farmers. JAG

refuses to speak with the GOZ, which it considers

illegitimate.

 

4. (SBU) Comment: The split among white farmers reflects

diverging interests. JAG members have mostly lost farms

and wish to pursue title claims indefinitely in the hope

of restitution or compensation; CFU members are often

still trying to hold onto all or part of their farms. If

a successor government one day comes to power, JAG’s

strident line could prove an impediment to revamping land

reform. While we agree that land reform has been unjust

and devastating to Zimbabwean agriculture, we do not

believe a future government could completely reverse it

or pay full compensation. The only way to make sense of

the senseless may be a negotiated deal that returns white

farmers to a portion of their farms, in exchange for them

relinquishing title to the other portion and assisting

new farmers. As time wears on, however, such an

agreement becomes less and less feasible and we do agree

that GOZ dialogue with the CFU to date has been mostly

for show with little or no serious effort at compromise.

 

Sullivan

 

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