The people of Masvingo, who are now said to be claiming a stake in the Save Conservancy, made demands for outright grants of ownership and financial concessions from the conservancy owners nine years ago.
According to a United States embassy source, the people were demanding their own rights saying it was their turn to benefit.
“We feel like their attitude is that the Harare Chefs have gotten their share of the spoils, it’s our turn now. We also detect a sense of urgency, as if they are coming to the end of the road and need action now,” the source said.
Then provincial governor Josiah Hungwe was reported to have told the board of Triangle, the largest cultivator of irrigated sugar in Zimbabwe, that if he were made a Board member, Triangle would have “no more problems” with relation to the land resettlement programme.
Triangle demurred. Its lands were listed.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1615, GOZ Targets Additional Commercial Farms and
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
141156Z Aug 03
UNCLAS HARARE 001615
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: GOZ Targets Additional Commercial Farms and
Properties in New Land Grab
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.
¶1. (SBU) Summary. New lists of commercial farms continue to
appear in the government-sponsored press. Hundreds of
mostly white-owned farms have been “gazetted” for
preliminary acquisition orders this year alone, despite
public statements that the land acquisition exercise was
successfully completed. While many listings are re-listings
of properties which had been successfully challenged on
technical grounds, the GOZ now appears to be targeting most
remaining commercial properties. End summary.
Nothing Is Sacred
¶2. (SBU) Despite public claims that the land resettlement
program has been successfully completed, new listings and
relistings of commercial farm properties continue unabated.
On June 20, 2003, fifty-six farms were listed as recipients
of preliminary (Section 5) notices of acquisition. On July
25, 2003, eighty additional farms were listed. On August 6,
2003, one hundred and fifty-two properties were listed.
Most recently, on August 8, 2003, a further eighty-four
properties were listed for compulsory acquisition. The
range of property affected is staggering — wildlife
conservancy properties, multinational-owned sugar growing
estates, privately-owned tea growing estates, commercial
timber-growing properties, individual dairy farms, and
extensive holdings (over 45,000 hectares) owned by the South
African Oppenheimer family are all listed for compulsory
¶3. (SBU) Theories abound as to the motivation behind the
aggressive new listings. One local economist believes that
the GOZ is attempting to assert outright ownership of all
rural land, in order to craft a new land tenure system of
long-term leases. Of course, implicit in such a strategy is
the necessity for commercial farmers to relinquish title
deeds and all future claims on their property in order to
qualify for a lease. Another contact states that the mere
act of listing these properties, particularly the massive
landholdings of the sugar, tea, and conservancy estates, is
merely a pretext for forcing the owners into a negotiating
“It’s Our Turn Now…”
¶4. (SBU) This second contact cites the example of Masvingo
governor Josiah Hungwe, in whose district much of the
conservancy property and all of the sugar estate property
lies. Hungwe allegedly told the board of Triangle Estates,
the largest cultivator of irrigated sugar in Zimbabwe, that
if Hungwe were made a Board member, Triangle would have “no
more problems” with relation to the land resettlement
program. Triangle demurred; its lands are now listed.
Another contact in Save Conservancy reported last week that
local Masvingo political heavyweights recently made renewed
demands for outright grants of ownership and financial
concessions from conservancy owners. He stated, “We feel
like their attitude is that the Harare Chefs have gotten
their share of the spoils, it’s our turn now. We also
detect a sense of urgency, as if they are coming to the end
of the road and need action now.” He now believes that the
new listings explain the urgency.
¶5. (SBU) Many of the properties have been listed before,
and the new listings follow court decisions invalidating the
previous acquisitions on technical grounds. However, the
new wave of listings includes properties which have so far
escaped widespread predation — dairy farms, large-scale
sugar estates, timber lands. Rather than trying to seek a
way out of the economic morass resulting from the
displacement of productive agro-industries, the GOZ seems
determined to pursue a Pyrrhic victory in which possession
alone is the only measure of success. These new
acquisitions can only do further, long-term damage to the
already reeling economy.