Chapfika in housing development in Harare


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Divine Homes, a development company believed to be owned by Deputy Finance Minister David Chapfika, took over Gletwyn property in October 2005 and announced its aim to build houses and began constructing roads. According to Jim Ross, son of the owner Stuart, Divine Homes said it had been given an offer letter to the 256-hectare property but he had never seen the documents.

Ross claimed that Divine Homes was selling housing plots to the general public and offering titles to the land.

Stuart Ross had plans to build a high-end residential neighbourhood on the property but stopped after constructing only four homes when he was notified of the government’s plans to take over the property.

He leased some of the property for agricultural purposes to his brother, Ian Ross, who owned a neighbouring development on which he had built some 200 housing plots.

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 06HARARE136, URBAN LAND SEIZED IN LATEST AFFRONT TO PRIVATE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

06HARARE136

2006-02-08 15:01

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 SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000136

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: URBAN LAND SEIZED IN LATEST AFFRONT TO PRIVATE

PROPERTY RIGHTS

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 127

B. REF B: HARARE 098

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) The GOZ in mid-December 2005 seized Gletwyn property,

an urban-zoned development area within Harare,s city limits,

marking the GOZ’s first formal taking of urban land apart

from legal eminent domain proceedings. The Police Housing

Cooperative and Divine Homes, a housing development company

reportedly owned by Deputy Finance Minister David Chapfika,

have subsequently begun developing the land to build upscale

houses for senior police officials and other civil servants.

There were reports, so far uncorroborated, that some of the

farm workers displaced were forced to work on the farms of

political insiders. The urban land seizure coincides with

other GOZ attacks on the integrity of property rights,

underscoring IMF criticisms and possibly presaging a

troubling new phase in GOZ corruption. End Summary.

 

—————————–

&Land Reform8 Comes to Harare

—————————–

 

2. (C) In a January 30 meeting, Jim Ross elaborated to

poloff about the government,s seizure of Gletwyn property, a

256-hectare tract of urban-designated land owned by his

father, Stuart, who currently resides in South Africa. (N.B.

Some 14 kilometers from downtown Harare, Gletwyn and

neighboring properties are prime real estate officially

listed as urban area but are best described as peri-urban

areas where commercial farming takes place and developers

have started to build some low-density residential areas.)

 

3. (C) Ross said that since the GOZ unveiled its National

Housing Program in 2003, Gletwyn had been under threat.

Despite having plans to build a high-end residential

neighborhood on the property, Stuart Ross stopped development

after constructing only four homes when notified soon

thereafter of the GOZ,s plan to take over the property.

Instead, Stuart Ross leased some of the property for

agricultural purposes to his brother, Ian Ross, who owned a

neighboring development on which he had built some 200

housing plots.

 

4. (C) Evictions at Gletwyn property began in earnest late

last year, according to Jim Ross. The residents of the four

homes were forced to leave the property and farm workers were

told to leave, although many stayed in makeshift housing. In

mid-October 2005, local development company Divine Homes,

which is reportedly owned by Deputy Finance Minister David

Chapfika, asserted a claim to the land, announced its

intention to build home plots, and began constructing roads

on the property. Ross said he had been told that Divine

Homes was given an offer letter for the property, but he had

never seen such a document. Ross also claimed that Divine

Homes was selling housing plots to the general public and

offering titles to the land.

 

5. (C) The GOZ stepped up eviction efforts in mid-December,

according to Ross, when police arrived at Gletwyn to assert

that a portion of the land had also been allocated to the

Police Housing Cooperative. At this point the police

forcibly removed about 200 farm workers. The Police Housing

Cooperative intended to build homes for high-ranking police

officials and civil servants. Since mid-December there had

been a regular police presence at the property.

 

————-

Forced Labor?

————-

6. (C) According to International Organization for Migration

(IOM) project officer Justin MacDermott, some farm hands that

had been displaced initially told IOM that they were forced

to work at farms belonging to ministers. Subsequent

investigations by IOM and Post, however, found inconclusive

evidence for such allegations. MacDermott on February 1 told

poloff that the laborers were almost certainly coerced into

moving to new farms and left with the alternative of working

there or fending for themselves; conditions that while bad

did not constitute forced labor, in his estimation.

 

7. (C) Poloff on February 2 contacted one of Ross,s farm

managers to inquiry about the evictions, of which he was also

a victim. The manager, who refused to give his name, said

that many workers had been simply dropped off at remote

locations or farms with few options but to work. However,

both Ross and the manager reported that many displaced

workers had subsequently found their way back to Gletwyn.

 

——————————–

A Growing List of Transgressions

——————————–

 

8. (C) Gletwyn is the most glaring of several recent GOZ

attacks on the integrity of private property rights. In

another incident, the Ministry of Local Government sent

letters in mid-January to homeowners around Mugabe,s new

mansion in the posh northern suburb of Borrowdale Brook

notifying them that the government would compulsorily acquire

their homes to create a &security zone.8 According to

independent press accounts, 15 homeowners (many of whom are

elite black Zimbabweans, according to one contact) received

the notice.

 

9. (C) Although the letter suggests the homeowners will be

compensated, one real estate agent interviewed in the press

said the notices effectively wiped out the value of these

once-expensive homes. Otto Saki from Zimbabwe Lawyers for

Human Rights told poloff on January 31 that the notices were

illegal, pointing out that this was urban land and therefore

not subject to confiscation under recently-passed

Constitutional Amendment 17.

 

10. (C) In another recent incident, Police Assistant

Commissioner Loveness Ndanga reportedly has defied a

directive from her supervisor, Police Commissioner Augustine

Chihuri, as well as two High Court orders ) the most recent

issued on December 2 ) to return farm equipment seized from

white farmers in Masvingo province. Ndanga heads an

inter-agency task force that had seized equipment worth

millions of US dollars in the past three months, according to

independent press accounts. It is believed that some of this

equipment is being used by the military units tasked to farm

in Mashonaland.

 

11. (C) Quoted as saying that the task force was following

&political orders and not court orders,8 Ndanga has

distributed the equipment to police officers and war veterans

in the province, according to the press reports. Commercial

Farmers Union President Doug Taylor-Freeme told econoff on

January 12 that the Union welcomed the court rulings against

Ndanga but had concluded that the only way to prevent future

seizures was to either hide the equipment or immobilize it.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) The GOZ,s seizure of Gletwyn property crosses a

significant legal line. Hitherto, all lands seized under

&land reform8 had been strictly agricultural land to be

used for farming purposes. Gletwyn ) despite the current

presence of commercial farming ) is urban land seized by the

GOZ with the intent of developing homes to benefit regime

cronies. The drastically shrinking economy may make urban

land seizures an increasingly appealing way to bolster the

GOZ,s patronage system. These recent attacks on the rule of

law also bear out the visiting IMF team’s concern about

continuing degradation of property rights here (ref A) –

despite rhetoric to the contrary from some corners of the

regime, such as Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono,s

declaration ) yet again ) of zero tolerance for land

invasions (ref B).

 

13. (C) Post will continue to pursue reports of forced

labor, which although yet to be fully corroborated, have

become more frequent. There are numerous reports, for

example, that army units are being used as agricultural

workers ) not just to grow their own food but also on the

commercial farms of senior ZANU-PF and military insiders.

Forced labor would cross another legal red line in the GOZ’s

continuing assault on individual and property rights.

DELL

 

(439 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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