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.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1599, BLACK FARMERS GROUP AGREES TO TALKS WITH WHITE
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
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
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009
SUBJECT: BLACK FARMERS GROUP AGREES TO TALKS WITH WHITE
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
¶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.