Muchena said what was happening in Zimbabwe will take place in South Africa


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Minister of State in Vice-President Joseph Msika’s Office Olivia Muchena said a decade ago that what was happening in Zimbabwe over the land issue would take place in South Africa.

She was speaking after the congress of the Commercial Farmers Union at which several government ministers accused the largely white farmers’ body of resisting land reform.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo who attended the congress as acting Minister of Agriculture described the congress as “lily white” and “racist” with “raw attitudes” that “refuse to share land”.

Muchena echoed him, accusing the CFU members of “racist tactics” and predicting that “what is happening in Zimbabwe is also going to take place to white racist farmers in South Africa”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1819, GLOOMY COMMERCIAL FARMERS’ UNION CONGRESS ADJOURNS

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1819

2002-08-08 13:19

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001819

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S, AF/EX

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2012

TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAGR ECON ZI

SUBJECT: GLOOMY COMMERCIAL FARMERS’ UNION CONGRESS ADJOURNS

AS SECTION 8 EVICTION DEADLINE LOOMS

 

 

Classified By: CHG REWhitehead due to 1.5 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary. The 59th annual Commercial Farmers, Union

(CFU) Congress was a gloomy affair that took place under the

pall of an August 8 deadline for the eviction of the majority

of CFU members from their farms. There was unusual division

within CFU ranks over whether or not to mount court

challenges to the eviction orders as well as to an expensive

and compulsory worker retrenchment package, or whether to

continue the elected CFU leadership,s thus far fruitless

attempt at non-confrontational dialogue with the GOZ. There

was also a split between farmers who will remain on their

farms in defiance of the deadline, and those who had chosen

to vacate. Acting Agriculture Minister Ignatius Chombo and

several other ZANU-PF heavyweights attended the closing

ceremony, which was addressed by Vice President Joseph Msika.

His remarks contained little new, and yielded nothing

promising on the looming Section 8 deadline. Msika concluded

with a pointed threat to the Justice for Agriculture (JAG)

group, which has split from the CFU and favors legal

confrontation with the GOZ. In his response, CFU President

Cloete pitched for dialogue and an extension of the eviction

deadline, which prompted a scornful response from Chombo and

other GOZ hardliners in a following press interview. CFU

leaders attempted to put a positive spin on Msika,s more

conciliatory remarks — a stretch from where we sat — as

what may have been the last CFU Congress adjourned. End

summary.

 

—————–

A Mournful Affair

—————–

 

2. (SBU) Econoff attended preliminary open sessions of the

CFU Congress, and the Charge participated in the closing

ceremony. It was a gloomy affair overall, given that the

first tranche of 1,800 of the CFU,s remaining 3,000 plus

members were facing a midnight August 8 deadline to vacate

their farms, totaling some 2,500 properties, or face fines

and possible imprisonment. The strain of the deadline

compounded by three years of violence and stress had clearly

taken their toll on the CFU. In closed sessions, there were

reportedly deep internal fissures in what has traditionally

been a very cohesive group. The sessions featured heated

exchanges over whether or not the CFU should challenge

exorbitant GOZ-mandated retrenchment packages for their farms

workers in court, or whether the increasingly cash-strapped

farmers should pay the severance, as mandated by law, before

leaving their properties. The CFU took no formal decision on

whether members should leave their farms before the eviction

deadline, largely because there was a lack of consensus on

this point. Some delegates stated that they intended to defy

the deadline, while others said that they would vacate

temporarily and see what transpired.

 

———————————————

Msika Calls for Unity, Then Rattles the Saber

———————————————

 

3. (SBU) A surprisingly top-heavy ZANU-PF delegation

composed of VP Msika (acting President in Mugabe,s absence);

Minister of Local Government, Works, and Housing (and acting

Agriculture Minister) Ignatius Chombo; hard-line Mashonaland

West Chanetsa, and Minister of State Olivia Muchena attended

the closing ceremony. Following an oleaginous introduction

by Chombo and a fulsome welcome by CFU President Colin

Cloete, Msika proceeded to review GOZ policy over the past

year, including the Section 5 and 8 seizure mechanism and the

mandated limitations on farm sizes. He stressed that the

fast track land reform program would move forward to

completion but that it would respect its own iternal

regulations. He made no specific mention of any grace period

for the August 8 deadline but noted that the GOZ has delisted

689 farms comprising a total of 1.69 million hectares

 

4. (SBU) Msika expressed the GOZ,s willingness to continue

dealing with the Zimbabwean Joint Resettlement Initiative

(ZJRI), a CFU-backed attempt to identify and donate

commercial farmland for resettlement, complete with a

financial package to assist the resettled farmers start up.

However, he criticized the slowness of the effort and the

limited amount of land offered up and accused the CFU of

resisting land reform from the outset. Msika added that he

hoped that within the next year the “white” CFU and the

“indigenous” Zimbabwean Farmers’ Union would be blended into

a single organization. He delivered a blunt warning to the

“small clique amongst you” ) clearly the dissident JAG —

who favored confrontation with government over dialogue. He

stressed that they would face “the full wrath of the law” and

that the government would not be deterred from action by

external influence.

 

5. (SBU) On a more conciliatory note, Msika declared that he

was not and had never been a racist, that he deplored racism,

and that his reference to “our people” extended across the

color line to all Zimbabweans. He further insisted that

there was room and space for all who wished to stay and

encouraged CFU members who wished to farm to complete and

submit the required forms expeditiously, or even to contact

his office. He announced that no one would be rendered

homeless by the land reform process.

 

————

The Response

————

 

6. (SBU) CFU President Cloete responded by pointing out that

the CFU had always opted for dialogue with the GOZ, which

until recently had been refused. He noted that the GOZ had

offered no mechanism through which lands identified by the

ZJRI could be transferred. He bemoaned the chaos and

warlordism associated with the fast track program, and

lamented the breakdown of law and order that had translated

into violence against, and even the murder of, many farmers.

Cloete rejected the confrontational approach of the JAG and

said that the CFU stood ready to work with the Government.

He urged the Government to re-examine the Section 8 deadline

before it came into effect.

 

7. (SBU) A representative of the commercial farmers of

Namibia delivered a pledge of solidarity for the CFU and

requested concrete proposals on how their Namibian

counterparts could be of assistance. A Mr. Roth representing

Agric SA, a South African counterpart group, subsequently

took the floor and in an unexpected turn of events proceeded

to lambaste the GOZ for “outrageous economic policies that

were ruining Zimbabwe and harming the region.” He continued

in the same vein, with the CFU leaders at the head table

squirming and the ZANU-PF heavyweights in the front row

increasingly outraged as Roth blasted the “wimpy” South

African Government for its lack of response and castigated

“other countries represented here” for sitting on their

hands.

 

———–

The Fallout

———–

 

8. (C) Charge spoke with CFU Vice Presidents Douglas

Taylor-Freeme and William Hughes following the ceremony.

Taylor-Freeme, who has been on and off his farm in the

volatile Chinhoyi region for several months, confirmed that

he would pass the weekend at Lake Kariba and take stock of

what follows. Hughes said that he would return to his farm

an hour outside of Harare and take his chances. He explained

that the farm was valued at Zimbabwe dollar 1.4 billion (USD

2 million at the parallel rate) and that he and his family

had no holdings of any kind outside of Zimbabwe. He had no

choice but to stick it out, although he hoped that if he were

forcibly expelled, it would be by police arrest and not mob

action. Taylor-Freeme estimated that 1,200-1,400 of the

1,800 affected were still on their farms, but he did not have

accurate information on how many would stay put in spite of

the deadline. Both he and Hughes believed that violent

episodes were unlikely, but could only speculate on hotspots

or the potential magnitude of the problem. The outcome would

determine how other CFU members remaining on their farms

would react as their own Section 8 deadlines fell due.

 

9. (C) Hughes was surprisingly upbeat on Msika,s remarks,

focusing on the “room for all” and positive ZJRI rhetoric.

He admitted that the “no one left homeless” remark was

mystifying, in that a large number of farmers who had been

driven off their farms before the Section 8 deadline are for

all practical purposes already homeless. Hughes said that

many others are either broke or deeply in debt, their plight

further aggravated by the GOZ-mandated retrenchment packages.

He scoffed at Msika,s mention of 689 Setion 8 delistings,

noting that this had been handled strictly along color lines

and that virtually all beneficiaries have been indigenous

Zimbabwean farmers. He said that 98 percent of

non-indigenous farms have been listed and offered the view

that the remaining two percent had been temporarily spared by

administrative oversights.

 

10. (C) The ZANU-PF contingent marched out in formation

immediately after the closing session, and their take can

only be judged from the government press, which accurately

reflected Msika,s remarks.   It also quoted Chombo as

labeling the Congress as “lily white” and “racist” with “raw

attitudes” that “refuse to share land.” Minister of State

Olivia Muchena echoed him, accusing the CFU members of

“racist tactics” and predicting that “what is happening in

Zimbabwe is also going to take place to white racist farmers

in South Africa.”

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) The CFU appeared dispirited, unusually disorganized,

and increasingly a spent force. Neither Taylor-Freeme nor

Hughes could provide precise figures on how many CFU members

remain on the farms or how many have already emigrated, a

startling admission from an organizaton that a year ago was

probably the best organized and informed lobby in Zimbabwe.

Hughes, who is leaving his Vice Presidential slot, said that

the CFU executive is downsizing and that he will not be

replaced. The CFU has been unable to find a qualified

replacement for its public relations director, who defected

to JAG, and has no accurate figures on how many of its

members have actually followed her lead. Cloete made it

clear, however, that despite these challenges the CFU

leadership remains committed to dealing non-confrontatially

with the GOZ. As Hughes pointed out, Mugabe himself has

already stated that the GOZ will not respect court decisions

that it does not agree with, and the regime has at its

disposal all the forces required to counter a strategy of

confrontation.

 

12. (C) Hughes’ attempt at a positive take on Msika,s

remarks struck us as grasping at straws. Msika said nothing

new in the speech, and his rhetoric about space for all,

unity, and a home for everyone has not been borne out by

developments on the ground. Barring a prompt and radical GOZ

policy change over the next few days, highly unlikely in

Mugabe,s absence, we take Msika,s statements as words for

the wind. The ZANU-PF instinct for crushing any opposition

to its monopoly on power, so ably displayed in its dealings

with the MDC, would appear to extend to the CFU as well. The

question that was never answered at the glum 59th CFU

Congress was whether or not this would be its last. End

Comment.

WHITEHEAD

 

(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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