Commercial Farmers Union president Doug Taylor-Freeme told United States embassy officials that he preferred a moderate Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government to a Movement for Democratic Change one.
He said he had given up on compensation for his members and also on the prospects of the MDC ever forming the government. He was therefore encouraging his members to work with ZANU-PF.
Taylor Freeme was trying to defend a move by the Midlands branch of the CFU to finance a reception for Vice-President Joice Mujuru to congratulate her for her appointment as Vice-President.
The Branch had requested its members to contribute Z$1 million for the bash.
The hard line Justice for Agriculture group which also represented white farmers opposed the gesture saying this was appeasement of the enemy.
The CFU argued that this was a strategy that would ultimately lead to benefits in the future.
Viewing cable 05HARARE165, WHITE FARMER GROUPS STILL AT ODDS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000165
INFO ALL EUROPEAN DIPLOMATIC POSTS
ALL DIPLOMATIC POSTS
AF/S FOR BNEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW, STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009
SUBJECT: WHITE FARMER GROUPS STILL AT ODDS
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reason 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) A recent appeal by a branch of the Commercial Farmers
Union (CFU) requesting financial assistance for a reception
for Vice President Joyce Mujuru has divided white farmers.
The CFU, which has defended the appeal, told us privately it
was part of an effort to rebuild ties with the GOZ. However,
the more hard line Justice for Agriculture (JAG) group has
reacted angrily to the appeal with numerous letters on its
web site denouncing the reception as a sell-out. End summary.
¶2. (C) As a goodwill gesture toward the ZANU-PF government,
the CFU,s Midlands chapter recently asked members to
contribute Z$ 1 million (US$ 161) for a Jan. 12 reception in
honor of recently-appointed VP Mujuru. The CFU,s letter to
members – reprinted on the JAG news service – urged them to
treat this collection as “a strategy that will ultimately
lead to benefits of sorts in the future.” Both CFU and JAG
officials told us that this marks the first time since the
GOZ began fast-track land reform in 2001 that a CFU chapter
has asked members to sponsor a ZANU-PF function.
¶3. (C) CFU President Doug Taylor Freeme said in December that
this approach would be in in line with his efforts to rebuild
relations with GOZ leaders whom he considers reasonable, such
as Vice President Joseph Msika, Lands Minister John Nkomo and
Reserve Bank President Gideon Gono. Taylor-Freeme – whose
remaining membership is still farming on a reduced scale –
also told us on Jan. 5 that he has largely given up both on
the compensation route and on the MDC,s prospects to take
power. The CFU President even confided that he now prefers a
“moderate” ZANU-PF to MDC government. As part of an
agreement between Lands Minister Nkomo and Taylor-Freeme, the
CFU President said several of his white members in Chinoyi
(Mashonaland West) have even applied for classification as A2
farmers (large-scale land reform beneficiaries) since
¶4. (SBU) However, white farmers in the more hard line Justice
for Agriculture (JAG) have reacted angrily, condemning such
overtures as “appeasement of the enemy.” A delegation of JAG
members told us Jan 12 that most of their members would never
again sit at a negotiating table with the ZANU-PF nor return
to large-scale commercial farming in Zimbabwe. They said
their current strategy was solely to obtain compensation for
losses from either the international community or from an MDC
government. Excerpts from JAG,s electronic discussion group
reflect their rancor toward the GOZ and, increasingly, the
– “We only needed one or two in our midst that chickened out
. . . By doing their deals (CFU members) bought time for
themselves, but at what expense? . . . (We must) not sup with
the devils.” – Former farmer TM Lambert
– “I am absolutely horrified at the compromise of integrity
by these few farmers remaining on their land. . . I am
disgusted to hear and read of farmers who are basically
working for the thugs who stole the land.” – Former farmer
– “The CFU have continued to attempt to appease the
Zimbabwean government for the last 59 months. . . The CFU
said dialogue was the only way forward. . . As a former
farmer and CFU member, I hang my head in disgust and shame.”
– Former farmer Cathy Buckley
¶5. (C) Animosity between CFU and JAG has increased to such
an extent that white farmers no longer present a united
front. Given that nearly all CFU members supported the MDC
in the 2002 presidential elections, a turn toward a ZANU-PF
faction from the 500 or so still-active white farmers signals
a noteworthy evolution. If the Nkomo faction within the
ruling party can stave off further farm seizures, it may have
a shot at beginning a process of reconciliation with
remaining white farmers – a necessary step, in our view,
toward recovery in the farming sector.