Dutch farmers paid court fees for Zim government to get case heard


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Dutch farmers who had been evicted from their farms in Zimbabwe by the government under its land reform programme had to pay the required US$150 000 advance payment to the International Centre for the Settlement of Disputes so that it could hear their case after the Zimbabwe government said it did not have the money.

The government which had a bilateral agreement with the Netherlands wanted an out-of-court settlement but the farmers rejected this.

Central Bank governor Gideon Gono said he did not want another Air Zimbabwe when he heard that the government had been unable to pay the advance fee.

He was referring to the case of the national airline which had been forced to cancel its lucrative London flights for several days rather than risk its planes being seized by creditors.

The central bank bailed out the national airline.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE1492, NEW LAND SEIZURE LAW; DUTCH FARMERS CHALLENGE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

06HARARE1492

2006-12-21 06:36

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0761

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1492/01 3550636

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 210636Z DEC 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0952

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1423

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1278

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1427

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0145

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0688

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1053

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1481

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3874

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1250

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1903

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1643

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001492

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON EFIN EAGR ZI

SUBJECT: NEW LAND SEIZURE LAW; DUTCH FARMERS CHALLENGE

SEIZURES

 

REF: A. A) HARARE 1396

 

¶B. B) HARARE 1361

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

¶1. (SBU) An Act requiring most farmers whose land was

compulsorily acquired by the GOZ to cease farming and vacate

their homes during the present summer growing season passes

into law on December 20. Over 700 farmers could face

eviction if the Act is implemented. In the meantime, an

international arbitration tribunal has begun hearing the case

of a group of evicted Dutch farmers. Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gono is reportedly concerned about

the possible seizure of Zimbabwe,s overseas assets if the

case is decided against the GOZ. End Summary.

 

——————————————— ——-

Eviction Bill Starts Clock Ticking for White Farmers

——————————————— ——-

 

¶2. (U) On December 20, the Gazetted Land (Consequential

Provisions) Act passed into law, setting the clock ticking

for the possible eviction of most of the remaining white

commercial farmers in Zimbabwe. The Act, gazetted on

December 8, requires all farmers whose land was compulsorily

acquired by the GOZ, and who are not in possession of an

official offer letter, permit or lease, to cease to occupy,

hold or use that land forty-five days (i.e. February 3, 2007)

after passage of the Act into law. The Act also requires

farmers to vacate their homes within 90 days (March 19,

2007). Failure to comply is a criminal offense punishable by

a fine and/or a sentence of up to two years.

 

¶3. (SBU) Commercial Farmers, Union (CFU) President Doug

Taylor-Freeme told us on December 11 that the Act could be

&the end of the road for agriculture,8 if implemented. In

a notice to its members, the CFU pointed out that the vast

majority of white commercial farmers still on the land have

complied with the GOZ,s criteria to continue farming: they

had offered land, downsized, co-existed with settlers, and

over 700 of them had applied for permission to stay on the

land through the A2 offer letter system. Yet barely a

handful of applicants had received an offer letter or lease

(Ref A). The CFU is, however, advising its members to

continue farming and has engaged a high-powered legal team

from South Africa.

 

——————————-

Dutch BIPPA Case Hearing Begins

——————————-

 

¶4. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme also updated us on the dispute brought

to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment

Disputes (CISID) by evicted Dutch farmers. The group of

farmers is demanding that the Zimbabwe Government honor the

Netherland,s Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection

Agreement (BIPPA) with Zimbabwe. (Note. Other countries

with BIPPAs are France, Mauritius, Belgium, Sweden, Holland,

Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Germany. According to the CFU,

about 100-150 farmers from these countries could potentially

bring actions against Zimbabwe. End Note.)

 

¶5. (SBU) According to Taylor-Freeme, the GOZ failed to pay a

required US$150,000 advance payment to the Centre, citing

 

HARARE 00001492 002 OF 002

 

 

foreign exchange shortages, but the Dutch group had made the

payment on behalf of the GOZ to move the case forward. The

Dutch farmers, who rejected an out-of-court settlement of the

case, would attempt to put a lien on GOZ assets outside of

Zimbabwe.

 

¶6. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme said he had briefed RBZ Governor Gono

recently on the case and said Gono had appeared poorly

informed. Gono had called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

while with Taylor-Freem and had demanded a full dossier on

the dispute. Speaking in Shona (which Taylor-Freeme

understads), Gono had told the MFA official &we can,t have

a repeat of the Air Zimbabwe situation.8 (Note. n early

November Air Zimbabwe was forced to cancl its lucrative

London flight for several days rther than risk seizure of an

airplane by creditos. The RBZ intervened and paid the debt.

Ref B End Note.)

 

——

Update

——

 

¶7. (SBU) The Netherlands Embassy in Harare informed us that

an initial hearing was held in Paris on December 15. A

briefing schedule was set which will conclude in mid-August.

Zimbabwe was represented by two lawyers from the Attorney

General,s office in Harare. According to unconfirmed news

reports, GOZ Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele attempted

to obtain a visa to travel to Paris for the hearing, but was

refused a visa because he is on the EU sanctions list.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

¶8. (SBU) Passage into law of the eviction act deepens the

pall of uncertainty over Zimbabwe,s remaining productive

farmers. In addition, if implemented, it could be a further

blow to Zimbabwe,s food security and to its foreign exchange

generating capacity, as evictions would occur at the height

of the cereal and tobacco growing season. While BIPPA

arbitrations may result in judgements for compensation for

some evicted farmers, hope is fading among the remaining

white farmers that the GOZ will provide them with secure

tenure.

 

SCHULTZ

 

(64 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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