Gono called Mugabe on speakerphone for CFU president


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Central bank governor Gideon Gono, who was a long standing member of the Commercial Farmers Union, called President Robert Mugabe on his speakerphone so that he and CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme could brainstorm with Mugabe the revival of the country’s agriculture.

This was disclosed to United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell by the CFU president who had just toured the country and felt that although Agriculture Minister Joseph Made had issued a lot of acquisition notices while Lands Minister John Nkomo was on vacation, the government was not likely to acquire any more farms from the white commercial farmers since most had already carved out deals with high-level ZANU-PF or local officials.

The CFU president felt prominent ZANU-PF politicians would find it easier to take farms from less powerful blacks than from surviving white farmers.

Taylor-Freeme said he had frequent talks with Gono and Nkomo but Nkomo now only wanted to talk to him on the phone and not in person.

He said that he had become sceptical of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s prescriptions for agricultural recovery and was put off by the lack of businessmen in their ranks.

All things being equal, he believed ZANU-PF’s moderate Gono-Nkomo wing – if it ever took control of policy – could do a better job managing the economy than the MDC.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1664, 600 White Farms Still Hanging On

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1664

2004-10-06 10:06

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001664

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

SENSITIVE, NOFORN

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD EINV PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: 600 White Farms Still Hanging On

 

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for dissemination to

foreign nationals.

 

1. (SBU/NF) Summary: The GOZ has been issuing an

increasing number of acquisition notices to the small

number of remaining white farmers, but has not taken over

many new farms, according to Doug Taylor-Freeme,

president of the mostly-white Commercial Farmers Union

(CFU). He believes around 600 whites are still farming.

Taylor-Freeme reiterated his willingness to engage in

reconciliation talks with the mostly-black Indigenous

Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU) but now wants the small-

scale Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) included.   End

summary.

 

Lots of Acquisition Notices – Few Acquisitions

——————————————— –

2. (SBU/NF) Taylor-Freeme just concluded two-weeks travel

to nearly every farming region of Zimbabwe. He believes

production of all commercial crops except cotton will

drop from 2004 to 2005, but declined to offer concrete

forecasts at this early stage. The CFU president

suggested that hard-line Agriculture Minister Joseph Made

signed off on many recent acquisition notices while

filling in for a vacationing Lands Minister John Nkomo.

Taylor-Freeme believed the GOZ would find it hard to

evict the final 600 white farmers, however, since most

had already carved out deals with high-level ZANU-PF or

local officials. For the time-being, he felt prominent

ZANU-PF politicians would find it easier to take farms

from less powerful blacks than from surviving white

farmers. Still, Taylor-Freeme acknowledged that these

whites would one day also lose their farms if the GOZ did

not modify its policy.

 

3. (SBU/NF) The CFU President continues to look for new

ways to defend his membership’s interests. He estimates

that a dozen sub-Saharan governments have now approached

him to woo dispossessed white farmers, and that about 500

have relocated elsewhere in Africa. He said most

remaining white farmers would now accept transferable 99-

year leases, if offered by the GOZ. Taylor-Freeme said

he talks frequently with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon

Gono, a long-standing CFU member. Taylor-Freeme told us

Gono even recently called President Mugabe on the

speakerphone with Taylor-Freeme in the office, so that

the three could brainstorm about reviving Zimbabwean

agriculture. (Comment: Although relations have soured

over the past five years, the CFU used to enjoy better

access to Mugabe than other private sector groups.) On

the other hand, the CFU president regretted that Lands

Minister Nkomo will speak with him anytime over the phone

but will no longer meet with him in person. (Comment:

GOZ hard-liners have accused vice-presidential candidate

Nkomo of not being tough enough on white farmers.)

 

4. (SBU/NF) Taylor-Freeme added that he has become

skeptical of the opposition Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC)’s prescriptions for agricultural recovery

and is put off by the lack of businessmen in their ranks.

All things being equal, he believes ZANU-PF’s moderate

Gono-Nkomo wing – if it ever took control of policy –

could do a better job managing the economy than the MDC’s

present shadow cabinet.

 

Merger Prospects for Farmers Unions

———————————–

5. (SBU/NF) The CFU president said he remains prepared to

sit together with the ICFU to discuss agricultural

reconciliation. However, Taylor-Freeme now insists that

the small-scale ZFU, a third agrarian body that

represents communal farmers, be included in talks. He

underscored for us how difficult it will be for CFU

members who have lost farms to sit accross the table from

those who now occupy them. But he agreed that a “gradual

merger of forces” toward a nonracial union of farmers is

probably the most logical way forward.

 

Comment

——-

6. (SBU/NF) Justifiably or not, Taylor-Freeme can take

credit the GOZ has expropriated only about 50 white farms

during the first of his two years in office. By

comparison, about 3,800 white farmers lost all or most of

their land during the previous two CFU presidents’

tenures. Taylor-Freeme has taken a lower-key approach,

urging his staff to be nonpolitical and treat ZANU-PF and

MDC equally. Only rarely is he now a target of scorn in

the official media. Still, the CFU president’s options

are limited, even if the acquisition pace remains just

one every two weeks. Taylor-Freeme’s purported desire to

now include the ZFU in merger talks may simply be a

diversionary tactic, but it more likely reflects growing

realignment. With “land reform” now essentially

completed, the interests of all Zimbabwe’s farmers –

black, white, commercial, small-holder – will be better

served by moving the debate forward and focusing on how

to restore productivity to a once thriving sector.

Dell

(21 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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