Made gets his way


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Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made scored a major victory when the Land Acquisition Amendment Act was passed in Parliament legalising all the farms he had compulsorily acquired.

The amended act removed the requirement of actual notice being served on a property owner or other parties in interest, and instead requiring only that notice be published in the government’s official gazette.

It eliminated the option previously available under law for a property owner to avoid compulsory acquisition of one property by offering another, and invalidated all such arrangements previously agreed to.

It also expanded the scope of land reform to encompass not just rural farm land, but also agro-industrial properties, plantations of timber, tea, coffee, citrus fruit and sugar cane, components of export processing zones and properties operating under permit of the Zimbabwe Investment Centre, and approved conservancies.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE199, PARLIAMENT PASSES LAND ACQUISITION ACT AMENDMENTS,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE199

2004-02-04 11:17

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 000199

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR TPFL

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PTER ASEC ECON EAGR ZI

SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT PASSES LAND ACQUISITION ACT AMENDMENTS,

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING BILL

 

REF: (A) 03 HARARE 2451 (B) 03 HARARE 2421 (C) HARARE

 

1506 AND PREVIOUS

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: After considerable debate, Parliament on

January 28 passed a controversial Land Acquisition Amendment

(LAA) Bill. The bill scales back due process protections for

property owners and expands the categories of properties that

may be confiscated under the government’s land reform

program. Passing on January 29 without partisan bickering

was the Bank Use Promotion and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML)

Bill, which boosts the state’s investigatory powers in the

financial sector. Parliament adjourned January 29 and is

scheduled to reconvene March 23. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) The LAA removes a requirement of actual notice being

served on a property owner or other parties in interest

(e.g., mortgage holders), instead requiring only that notice

be published in the government’s official gazette. It

eliminates the option previously available under law for a

property owner to avoid compulsory acquisition of one

property by offering another, and invalidates all such

arrangements previously agreed to. The Act eliminates

limiting criteria relating to the nature of the land

compulsorily acquired, effectively expanding the scope of

land reform to encompass not just rural farm land, but also

(1) agro-industrial properties, (2) plantations of timber,

tea, coffeee, citrus fruit and sugar cane, (3) components of

export processing zones and properties operating under permit

of the Zimbabwe Investment Center, and (4) approved

conservancies. In the same vein, it repeals the Hippo Valley

Agreement Act, whereby the GOZ had granted certain

agricultural concessions in the Hippo Valley. (Comment: The

South African conglomerate Anglo-American is a major investor

in Hippo Valley and appears to be targeted by this

provision.) The Act also removes as a defense to compulsory

acquisition the fact that the designated property is the

owner’s only piece of land.

 

3. (SBU) The LAA passed after some procedural irregularities

and a relatively quick but contentious debate. Bills are

required to be “gazetted” (officially published) at least 14

days prior to their introduction to the floor. After being

unavailable to interested parties, the LAA first appeared in

a special gazette issued December 5 but dated November 28,

and was under consideration by the Parliament less than 14

days after the date of actual publication. The Parliamentary

Legal Committee issued an adverse report on the bill by

mid-December, finding the Act provisions to violate Section

16 (dealing with compulsory acquisition of property) and

Section 18 (guaranteeing protection of law) of the

Constitution. Debate on the bill was uncharacteristically

sharp and detailed, with Minister for Agriculture Joseph Made

and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs

Patrick Chinamasa figuring prominently. Invoking a law

denying MPs with direct pecuniary interest in legislation the

opportunity to speak or vote on the legislation, MDC Shadow

Minister for Legal Affairs David Coltart moved on January 21

to have all MPs who had been allotted farms under the GOZ’s

land reform be excused from debate and the vote on the bill.

He presented a list of MPs with farms (including several

alleged multiple farm owners) but his motion failed after a

lengthy furor involving chaotic shouting matches and

temporary adjournment.

 

4. (U) The AML Bill passed without significant debate just

one day after its second reading (three readings are required

before passage). By its own terms, the law is intended to

steer more cash into the national banking system and to

enhance state powers to suppress money-laundering. The Bill

establishes a special investigative unit under the Reserve

Bank Governor to implement the law with support from the

police. It prohibits settlement in cash of debts exceeding

five million Zimdollars (approx. USD 1,400) and requires

parastatals and traders to bank surplus cash. It imposes

record-keeping requirements and limits on fees and cash

withdrawals at financial institutions. The Unit Director is

empowered to require institutions to disclose any records and

information on any transaction. Inspectors or police are

empowered to search any person and to seize any cash

suspected to be held unlawfully, subject to a subsequent

hearing before a magistrate. Parliamentary staff told us

that the Budget and Finance Committee played a meaningful

role in the bill’s crafting, marching in a small army of

banking and finance experts that convinced the Minister of

Justice (and Acting Finance Minister) to make constructive

changes before its passage. We have conveyed the Bill’s full

text to AF/S and to Treasury.

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: At least two impetuses lie behind the LAA.

First, it retroactively “legalizes” GOZ acts in implementing

land reform that heretofore were unlawful — essentially

invalidating innumerable court orders held by evicted

property holders. In this regard, it discards the GOZ’s

assertion at Abuja and elsewhere that farm owners may retain

one farm. Second, it signals commencement of the next phase

of GOZ nationalization of Zimbabwe’s assets: indeed, legal

proceedings and forcible evictions of owners of

agribusinesses, conservancies, and safari operators already

are vigorously underway. Real parties in interest behind the

evictions usually conceal their identities but uniformly have

turned out to be ruling party cronies when known. Following

on the heels of December’s executive order permitting seizure

of agricultural equipment from former property owners (ref

B), the LAA’s passage ironically evinces a heavily legalistic

dimension of the GOZ’s evolving campaign to bring the

country’s assets under the effective control of the ruling

party elite. The parliament’s prominent role in this

reflects its growing significance as a debating forum and

institution in form, but in substance it remains a reliable

appendage of the ruling party.

 

6. (SBU) COMMENT (CONT’D): The GOZ’s war on corruption is

the publicized impetus behind the AML Bill. In addition, we

understand that the need to extend a few statutory

instruments that were about to expire and a priority on

dealing with foreign currency pricing of services added some

urgency to the bill’s fast track. Perhaps most salient,

however, was the GOZ’s desire to bring more within its

control the considerable segment of society here that

operates outside the sometimes draconian and often

nonsensical vagaries of Zimbabwe’s formal economy. The

enhanced powers afforded the State (liberalized warrantless

searches, for example) can be expected to be used against

selected business rivals and political opponents of ruling

party principals, both inside and outside the party.

SULLIVAN

 

(5 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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