CFU said Mnangagwa was biding his time


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The vice-president of the Commercial Farmers Union Trevor Gifford told United States embassy officials that commercial farmers were going to remain political footballs in the power struggle between President Robert Mugabe’s potential successors.

He said the mostly white commercial farmers were caught in between Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s “economic team”, who were pushing for production, and hardliners under Minister of Security and Lands Didymus Mutasa, who wanted all whites off the land.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mujuru’s principal rival in the ongoing struggle to succeed Mugabe, and his allies were biding their time quietly, apparently hoping to use the chaos to their political advantage against both Mujuru and Mutasa.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku had also said Mnangagwa was biding his time and would allow Mujuru to take over from Mugabe but only for a while before he unseated her.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE770, NO STABILITY IN SIGHT FOR ZIMBABWE’S LAND REFORM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE770

2006-06-28 15:26

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3321

PP RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0770/01 1791526

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 281526Z JUN 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0263

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1255

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1100

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1259

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0520

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0885

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1313

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3684

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1082

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1721

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1470

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000770

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA AND B. CUSHMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2011

TAGS: EAGR PGOV ASEC EINV PHUM PREL ECON ZI

SUBJECT: NO STABILITY IN SIGHT FOR ZIMBABWE’S LAND REFORM

 

REF: HARARE 766

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Commercial Farm Union Vice President Trevor Gifford

on June 27 updated poloff on the GOZ’s latest 99-year lease

form, which would vest in the GOZ unfettered authority to

repossess any properties distributed in its ongoing chaotic

land reform process. Gifford said the form offered

insufficient security of tenure to attract investment or

financing. He described a new wave of evictions underway and

cast remaining commercial farmers as political footballs

between Vice President Mujuru’s “economic team”, who were

pushing production, and hardliners under Minister of Security

and Lands Mutasa, who wanted all whites off the land. He

noted GOZ plans to legislatively implement its control of

most of the sector and a CFU colleague elaborated on the

worthlessness of GOZ compensation offers to displaced

commercial farmers. Meanwhile, land use among ZANU-PF farm

claimants continues to be disrupted by squabbles over unclear

or conflicting rights to possession. End Summary.

 

——————————-

Unmarketable 99-Year Lease Form

——————————-

 

2. (C) Gifford shared a CFU critique of the GOZ’s latest

lease form (transmitted to AF/S), the purported centerpiece

of the GOZ’s effort to revive agricultural productivity.

Central among the host of deficiencies highlighted in the

document was the GOZ’s authority to take back the land for

“any breach” of the lease or if the GOZ deems the “the

leasehold is not being properly managed.” Proper management

was undefined and the lease provided no constraints on the

GOZ’s ability to terminate leases at any time.

 

3. (C) Gifford said the lease form remained in dispute

within the GOZ, which found it impossible to resolve its

conflicting objectives of draconian control and lease

marketability. In any event, in its current form it was

insufficient either as a basis for secure tenure to attract

investors or as a basis for collateral to enable badly needed

agricultural finance. Nonetheless, hundreds of commercial

farmers had been desperate enough to apply for land from the

GOZ under lease arrangements; none had yet received access to

land.

 

——————————————— ———

New Waves of Evictions in Spite of Mujuru Intervention

——————————————— ———

 

4. (C) Gifford said that a new wave of evictions got

underway in April, completely contradicting GOZ publicity

about interest in securing the environment for commercial

farmers. Fourteen farmers were physically evicted and 20

more threatened with eviction – mostly in Midlands and

Mashonaland West. More than half of the evicted farmers were

restored possession and the twenty successfully resisted

eviction with the help of what he informally dubbed the GOZ’s

“economic team”: Vice President Mujuru, Central Bank Governor

Gono, Minister for Economic Development Gumbo and Mashonaland

East Governor Kaokonde.

 

 

HARARE 00000770 002 OF 003

 

 

5. (C) Gifford reported that a more recent wave of evictions

commenced about two weeks ago. About ten more farmers had

been served with eviction notices signed by Mutasa and more

were expected. The notices afforded 90 days to vacate with

two-year jail terms for those who failed to comply. Gifford

noted that several of the targeted farmers had signed MOUs

with the Ministry of Agriculture just two months ago for

production of winter cereals. The uncertainty had led many

farmers to limit their planting of winter cereals.

 

6. (C) Gifford said the mixed messages reflected a power

struggle underway between Mujuru and her supporters and

hardliners aligned with Mutasa. Mujuru’s group saw

commercial farmers as a key to reviving the productivity

necessary to the ruling party’s political future. Gifford

said he “had absolutely no doubt” that Mujuru had been

advocating hard on their behalf. Indeed, she had engineered

a directive ordering a freeze on all disruptions or

dispossessions of commercial farmers — a directive

flagrantly ignored by Mutasa, his allies, and in some

instances opportunistic locals exploiting the lack of clear

authority. To Mutasa and the hardliners, the commercial

farmers were ostensible “security threats” and their farms

plums to be plucked in a patronage exercise. Mutasa had made

clear publicly and privately that he wanted all whites off

the farms, according to Gifford.

 

7. (C) As for Mugabe, Gifford continued, by refusing to

weigh in decisively on either side, he assured that

commercial farmers would remain political footballs in this

power struggle and that the agriculture sector would remain

paralyzed by uncertainty and disruption. Gifford said

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mujuru,s principal rival in the ongoing

struggle to succeed Mugabe, and his allies were biding their

time quietly, apparently hoping to use the chaos to their

political advantage against both Mujuru and Mutasa.

 

——————————————— —-

Legislation to Enable GOZ Control of Most Ag Land

——————————————— —-

 

8. (C) Gifford confirmed that GOZ was preparing to introduce

legislation to implement Amendment 17 to the Constitution,

which last year established government ownership of most

agricultural land in the country. Gifford asserted that the

version he had seen would exclude from government ownership

the lands of selected ruling elites who were not on lists

referenced in the legislation. He said the bill was

controversial within ZANU-PF, and suggested it might play out

like the NGO and education bills, which initially were not

signed into law after being passed by the parliament.

 

—————————–

Worthless Compensation Offers

—————————–

 

9. (C) Elaborating on reported compensation deals underway,

CFU Executive Director Hendrik Olivier told poloff on June 26

that the GOZ was offering dispossessed commercial farmers

pennies on the dollar for past improvements made on seized

properties. Typical offers were for between 5 and 10 percent

of the assessment values. The payouts would be made over

time in a manner that, under current quadruple digit

inflation conditions, would render them worthless. For those

farmers who demanded payment immediately, the GOZ was

assessing a 40 percent penalty, further eroding the

compensation. Although such conditions were very

 

HARARE 00000770 003 OF 003

 

 

unattractive, he noted that some destitute farmers had taken

the opportunity to settle, which had the unfortunate impact

of weakening the union’s front against government.

 

————————————

Intra-ZANU-PF Land Wrangles Continue

————————————

 

10. (SBU) Meanwhile, the independent and state-aligned media

continue to chronicle legal battles and conflict between

ZANU-PF loyalists over property seized under land reform.

Among those headlined for property disputes during the past

few weeks are Party Chairman and Speaker of the Parliament

John Nkomo, Party Director of Administration Shava, and

Minister of Agriculture Made. Embassy staff travel around

the country confirms that most former commercial farms lie

largely fallow and sector analysts estimate that land

utilization among ruling party elites who received some of

the best properties in land reform remains well below 50

percent.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) The continuing disarray in GOZ land reform shows no

prospect of abating in the foreseeable future. Real security

of tenure is the key to restoring the sector’s productivity

but remains anathema to much of the party leadership because

it would eliminate a central pillar of the patronage system.

Moreover, the dependence of all agricultural actors on the

government creates invaluable opportunities for corruption

among the elites, even as it stymies investment and

production in the overall economy. Even the seemingly more

constructive approach of Mujuru’s “economic team”

unhelpfully revolves around personal power relationships

rather than systemic reforms, and Mutasa’s alleged racially

inspired agenda strikes us as rather closer to the truth than

the conciliatory posture he tried to adopt recently for the

diplomatic corps (reftel). In this environment, any GOZ

exercise of its right to terminate — assuming a lease form

is ever approved — will play out in the context of

corruption and internecine power struggles unrelated to

purported productivity priorities. Like most purported

revolutions, Mugabe’s “Third Chimurenga” is heading towards a

stage of eating its own in endless internal battles for

power, position and profit.

DELL

(23 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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