It’s our turn now


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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.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1615, GOZ Targets Additional Commercial Farms and

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1615

2003-08-14 11:56

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.

 

141156Z Aug 03

UNCLAS HARARE 001615

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAGR ECON PGOV ZI

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

acquisition.

 

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

stance.

 

———————-

“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.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

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.

 

Whitehead

 

(4 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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