Minister of State Security and Lands, Didymus Mutasa, described white commercial farmers as “dirt” that needed to be cleansed. Addressing a land audit meeting in Masvingo, Mutasa reportedly said the remaining white farmers had to be clear out under a new land resettlement operation called “faster track”.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government had directed the Registrar of Deeds to nullify all title deeds for the 4 000 farms that had been nationalised by the Constitutional Amendment Act.
He said there was going to be a mopping up exercise with those farms that had escaped the net being accounted for and gazetted for acquisition.
Farms protected under bilateral trade agreements would also be acquired but full compensation would be paid.
Viewing cable 05HARARE1346, ISOLATED LAND SEIZURES BUT MIXED SIGNALS ON
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 02 HARARE 001346
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
STATE PASS USAID FOR M. COPSON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA AND B. CUSHMAN
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2015
SUBJECT: ISOLATED LAND SEIZURES BUT MIXED SIGNALS ON
“FASTER TRACK” LAND REFORM
REF: HARARE 01156
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER DELL UNDER SECTION 1.4 B/D
¶1. (C) Summary: Incendiary comments about “Faster Track”
land reform by GOZ Ministers may have spurred some recent
isolated, but violent farm seizures, but it is unclear
whether they signal a new series of farm invasions.
Nevertheless, pressure on commercial farmers to give up their
farms is incessant. The Security and Justice Ministers,
rabble rousing remarks about clearing out white farmers and
conducting a mopping up exercise, plus passage of the
constitutional amendment depriving displaced farmers of all
legal recourse, could be perceived by greedy ZANU-PF
stalwarts as a green light for a land grab. End Summary.
GOZ Rabble Rousing on Farm Takovers
¶2. (U) Addressing a land audit meeting in Masvingo province
earlier in September, Minister for State Security Land, Land
Reform and Resettlement Didymus Mutasa reportedly said the
remaining white commercial farmers must be “cleared out”
under a new land re-settlement operation he dubbed “Faster
Track.” According to press reports, Mutasa described white
commercial farmers as “dirt” which needed to be cleansed. On
September 23, announcing that the GOZ had directed the
Registrar of Deeds to immediately nullify all title deeds for
the 4000 farms nationalized by the Constitutional Amendment
Act (reftel), Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs Patrick Chinamasa told the press “there will be a
mopping up exercise with those farms who escaped the net
being accounted for and gazetted for acquisition.” Chinamasa
added that farms protected under bilateral trade agreements
would be acquired, but full compensation would be paid.
¶3. (SBU) During the week of September 18, several farm
invasions occurred in Manicaland province. In Chipinge, the
area with the highest number of remaining white-owned
commercial farms in Zimbabwe, a senior CIO official,
accompanied by local police, led an invading gang that
attacked and drove off one farm manager, leaving him with a
dozen stitches to the head, according to Commercial Farmers
Union (CFU) President Doug Taylor-Freeme. Meeting with
Embassy econoffs on September 27, Taylor-Freeme commented
that the invaded farms had had a history of confrontation
with government officials. Informed of the attacks, Mutasa
backtracked on his threat and professed ignorance about the
farm seizures, according to the press.
¶4. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme said a further 10 commercial farmers
in Manicaland had recently received letters signed by the
local district administrator ordering them to stop farming
immediately. He also related that on the previous weekend,
Mutasa, Chinamasa and Agriculture Minister Made had met in
Rusape, Manicaland with a group of commercial farmers. The
Ministers told them they would have to reduce their number of
farms from 40 down to 15. No further details are available
at this time. According to Taylor-Freeme, there are still
well over 500 white commercial farmers operating in Zimbabwe,
down from 4500 in 2000. They have all received section 7
notices of imminent physical takeover of their farms. Some
have made “arrangements” at the local level to continue
operations; others had, until passage of the constitutional
amendment, pursued legal redress.
¶5. (C) It is unclear at this point whether the latest round
of farm seizures reflects new GOZ policy and the start of a
new concerted wave of GOZ-sanctioned takeovers, or if this is
a series of isolated events. Local politicians and ZANU-PF
cadres at the provincial level appear to be interpreting the
the Security and Justice Ministers’ incendiary remarks
according to their own personal ends and ambitions.
Furthermore, the constitutional amendment depriving displaced
farmers of all legal recourse no doubt presents a “green
light” to ambitious and greedy Party stalwarts eager to
obtain free land at the expense of the remaining white
commercial farms. What is clear is that the Ministers’
appearance before the Rusape farmers, and their call to shut
down more commercial farms signal no let up to the pressure
on white farmers to pack their bags.
¶6. (C) Whether these incidents are isolated, violent land
grabs, or generally reflect a renewed GOZ focus on driving
out the remaining white commercial farmers, they will only
further feed the international perception of Zimbabwe as a
basket case and inappropriate destination for investment.
The GOZ,s ability to shoot itself in the foot, when it is
already limping, seems endless. As the country approaches
yet another food shortage, the decision to attack the few
remaining productive farms is mind boggling. End Comment.