CFU says Moyo not Made calling the shots on land issue


Commercial Farmers Union president Colin Cloete said after several meetings with government officials he was now convinced that it was Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, and not Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, who was in control of the negotiations.

Cloete said there was a clear sense of Made’s subservience to Moyo’s declarations at those meetings.


Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE356, CFU Update on Negotiations with GOZ

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Reference ID






2003-02-21 06:44

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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










E. O. 12958: N/A


SUBJECT: CFU Update on Negotiations with GOZ


Ref: a) Harare 239; b) Cape Town 76




1. (SBU) Summary. Laboff met with Commercial Farmers Union

(CFU) president Colin Cloete to discuss the ongoing

negotiations between the farmers’ group and the GOZ.

Despite official claims that the two groups are in accord,

the CFU reports that the two sides remain fundamentally

divided on many issues. The GOZ wants its ownership of the

seized 11 million hectares acknowledged as a fait accompli;

the farmers want their title deeds honored. The GOZ wants

farmers to “release” their farming equipment for the use of

the newly-settled farmers, (ref a); the farmers want to

retain their equipment (much of which is still mortgaged,

all of which was individually purchased) for their own use

when they return to their own property. Despite the clear

standoff between the two parties at the national level,

farmers are being approached on the ground and offered

various deals by the local authorities to get them to

produce food. Still, many farmers — burnt by previous bad-

faith deals — remain wary, and others are simply

uninterested in returning to farming without a fundamental

shift in Zimbabwe policies. End summary.


2. (SBU) At a recent meeting, Cloete reported that GOZ

attempts to paint a rosy picture of accord between itself

and the CFU on the land resettlement program are completely

without basis. Still, despite the absolutist language in

the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) published by the

GOZ-controlled newspaper, ref a, Cloete believes that the

GOZ is desperately aware of its precarious position in

relation to food security. In any event, the two sides

remain miles apart on almost all issues.


3. (SBU) In the MOU, the GOZ stated as its opening position

that the 11 million hectares seized (approximately 97% of

the land previously owned by white commercial farmers) was

“STATE LAND” which would never revert to private ownership.

However, after a subsequent meeting on returning skilled

farmers to production between the CFU and the Minister of

Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement Joseph Made, the GOZ

seemed to back off from its initial position. At the outset

of that meeting, Made stated that ownership of the land by

the GOZ and its occupancy by resettled farmers were “non-

negotiable.” In response, Cloete and his deputies replied,

“Then there is nothing to negotiate,” closed their

notebooks, and walked out of the meeting.


4. (SBU) Cloete later received a call from the minister who

asked if the CFU members would consider a 35-year lease on

their own lands; receiving a negative response, Made asked

if a 99-year lease would be acceptable. Cloete responded

that the sanctity of title deeds, and thus acknowledged

ownership of the land, was non-negotiable from the farmers’

perspective, and that leases (without full compensation for

seized property) would never satisfy dispossessed farmers or

entice them to return to production. According to Cloete,

after these opening positions were stated, no further

meetings have taken place. The MOU has not been signed, and

the highly publicized “cooperation” between the GOZ and the

CFU — cited by Nigerian president Obasanjo, as well as

Foreign Minister Zuma of South Africa (ref b), as a sound

basis for lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe — remains

strictly cosmetic.


5. (SBU) Cloete also reports that the GOZ seems as

distanced as ever from the situation on the ground. For

instance, the Lands Committee in the Wedze area, a rich

farming region southeast of Harare, recently approached

between 15 and 18 commercial farmers in that area and

appealed to them to return to production for “the good of

the nation.” Of that number, only 3 are actually producing.

Similar appeals have in the past two years resulted in

farmers planting crops on the basis of an oral assurance

that they would be allowed to reap, only to be dispossessed

by war vets and settlers shortly before harvest time. Based

on previous experience, farmers remain wary about planting

without a nationwide return to rule of law, or at least

without local written guarantees that they will be allowed

to harvest their crops. Asked about the coordination

between Minister Made and the local Lands Committee in such

an appeal, Cloete responded that he greatly doubted if the

Minister was aware that the local authorities were

attempting to cut deals with the farmers.


6. (SBU) In fact, Cloete was convinced that Minister of

Information Jonathan Moyo — and not the Minister of Lands,

Agriculture and Resettlement Joseph Made — was actually in

control of the negotiations between Made and the CFU.

Cloete based his belief on the personal interactions between

the two ministers at his latest series of meetings, as well

as a clear sense of Made’s subservience to Moyo’s

declarations at those meetings.



What Next?



7. (SBU) When asked what he saw as the best way forward for

the commercial farmers, Cloete was unwilling to speculate on

political solutions. Rather, he seemed to believe that

actually getting the farmers to return to production — even

in the absence of political accommodations — was vital.

Referring to the situation in Wedze, Cloete stated that he

would like to see six or seven farmers return, grow crops,

and help address the food security situation. If they were

successful, then perhaps another six or seven would return;

later another six or seven, and so on.


8. (SBU) However, Cloete acknowledged that this would only

help if the GOZ refrained from its continued attempts to

seize and establish its own ownership of the property in

question. He saw several pre-requisites to the return of

farmers in a productive capacity. The first is a guarantee

of personal security for farmers on their property. The

second is a return to law and order on the ground,

demonstrated by police support in confrontational situations

rather than a routine and dismissive response that “we can’t

help, this is political,” and clearly differentiated from an

ephemeral return to the “rule of law.” The third is a

respect for title deeds; the fourth, availability of

financing for the upcoming crop. The last prerequisite is

the availability of a motivated labor force. As reported

septel, many farmers — even those who nurtured good

relationships with their labor force — are wary of placing

their trust in workers who have demanded the payment of

financially crippling severance packages and, in some cases,

participated in looting their employers’ property.






9. (SBU) Cloete remains unsure as to how best proceed with

negotiations with the GOZ. He realizes that negotiation is

risky, but he knows that without negotiation the farmers

have no hope of returning to the land in time to make a

difference for Zimbabwe’s food crisis. Cloete believes that

some commercial farmers must be in place and producing by

the 2003/2004 growing season, or Zimbabwe may slide into an

abyss which will not be remedied for generations. Cloete

realizes that the CFU has been thrown a lifeline by the

GOZ’s need to have others — the EU, the Commonwealth, the

USG — see some effort at breaking the current impasse, but

he seems uncertain on how best to capitalize on the

increased international attention to the destruction of

commercial farming in his homeland. End comment.


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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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