CFU wanted to merge with ICFU to save its members


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The Commercial Farmers Union felt that a merger with the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union was the only way to save the remaining 500 to 600 white-owned farms, but Agriculture Minister Joseph Made stood in the way.

ICFU president Davison Mugabe told United States embassy officials that his organisation wanted to merge with the CFU because it badly needed the structure and expertise of the CFU.

It was, however, under pressure from Made who wanted it to merge with the Zimbabwe Farmers Union which represented communal farmers.

Mugabe said the needs and goals of the ICFU were more compatible with those of white farmers in the CFU – “serious businessmen” – than the black, mostly subsistence farmers in the ZFU.

CFU President Doug Taylor-Freeme had told US embassy officials that he now believed a merger with ICFU might be the only way to save the final 500-600 white owned farms.

He said he could no longer defend the rights of dispossessed whites, many of whom had emigrated from Zimbabwe. He would be satisfied if he could secure tenure for about 1000 members.

Taylor-Freeme said Lands Minister John Nkomo had agreed to the merger in principle as the Presidential Land Review Committee Report of August 2003 had advised that there be a single non-racial commercial farmers union.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE1599, BLACK FARMERS GROUP AGREES TO TALKS WITH WHITE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1599

2004-09-24 07:50

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001599

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS, TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW,

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER, STATE PASS USAID FOR

MARJORIE COPSON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: EAGR ECON PGOV ZI EINV

SUBJECT: BLACK FARMERS GROUP AGREES TO TALKS WITH WHITE

FARMERS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reason 1.5 d

 

REF: A) HARARE 849 B) HARARE 912

 

1. (C) Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU) President

Davison Mugabe told econoff his organization is now

prepared to meet formally with representatives of the

mainly white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). Mugabe

appears to have overcome his initial reluctance to engage

in such talks prior to next March’s parliamentary elections

(ref b).

 

2. (C) Mugabe acknowledged to us that his organization

badly needs the structure and expertise of the CFU. He

said he has resisted pressure from Agriculture Minister

Joseph Made to explore merger options with the Zimbabwe

Farmers Union (ZFU), which is mostly comprised of

small-scale communal farmers. The ICFU President argued

that the needs and goals of his constituents are more

compatible with the white farmers in the CFU – “serious

businessmen” – than the black, mostly subsistence farmers

in the ZFU. Mugabe suggested he may ask the Embassy to

provide a neutral conference room, noting that neither side

would be willing to meet at the other’s offices.

 

3. (C) On past occasions (ref a), CFU President Doug

Taylor-Freeme told us he now believes a merger with ICFU

may be the only way to save the final 500-600 white owned

farms (and possibly reclaim some land for the additional

500 white farmers still living in their farm-houses but no

longer able to farm). Taylor-Freeme told us he can no

longer defend the rights of dispossessed whites, many of

whom have emigrated from Zimbabwe. He would be satisfied

if he could secure tenure for about 1,000 members (down

from 4,500 in 2000). If the CFU agrees to a merger,

Taylor-Freeme said it would seek a guarantee from the GOZ

that there would be no further farm expropriations.

Taylor-Freeme insists Lands Minister John Nkomo has agreed

to this in principle, if the CFU follows the advice of the

Presidential Land Review Committee Report of August 2003

that there be a single non-racial commercial farmers union.

 

4. (C) Comment: Formal talks between the two commercial

farmer bodies would be an important step toward

reconciliation in Zimbabwe’s tattered agricultural sector.

It is a long-shot, but one worth urging along.

Taylor-Freeme has admitted to us that a merger could divide

his union and drive dissenters to the militant Justice for

Agriculture (JAG). Ultimately, however, Taylor-Freeme

knows time is not on the CFU’s side. From a variety of

sources, we estimate that the GOZ continues to expropriate

about one farms per week. This is a far slower pace of

acquisition than that of 2002, but suggests the CFU may run

out of members at some point.

Dell

 

(28 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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