Nationalisation fallout


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There was short-lived relief when Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo appeared to differ on the nationalisation of land eight years ago, but the operations director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Vitalis Chadenga put the record straight when he said only compulsorily acquired wildlife land would be leased for 25 years.

The department had asked for 99-year leases but this was turned down.

Chadenga said that the government wanted current conservancy owners to give up an undisclosed stake of their land ownership while remaining on the land to pass on knowledge to their local partners.

Law expert Lovemore Madhuku said the constitution guaranteed private property rights so the government could only nationalise compulsorily acquired land.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1021, NATIONALIZATION FALLOUT BEGINS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1021

2004-06-21 06:14

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 001021

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: NATIONALIZATION FALLOUT BEGINS

 

Ref: A) Harare 00959

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The public debate over GOZ plans

to nationalize most productive farmland has begun. The

initial policy announcement was only the first salvo.

There appears to be a growing fissure within ZANU-PF over

nationalization. End summary.

 

2. (SBU) Ostensibly correcting Land Minister John Nkomo’s

reported announcement that the GOZ intended to

nationalize all land in the country (ref A), the state-

controlled Herald’s June 10 edition stated that ” . . .

[the 99-year and 25-year leases] only appl[y] to land

acquired by the State under land reforms, and does not in

any way invalidate or supercede other lawful forms of

tenure . . .” A highly-placed Ndebele GOZ official told

the Embassy that Moyo, in his quest to be the top Ndebele

in Mugabe’s inner circle, purposefully mischaracterized

the nationalization policy to discredit Nkomo. Other

ruling party officials have confirmed this (septel).

 

 

3. (U) Articles in the Zimbabwe Independent and Financial

Gazette from June 10th also state that the Cabinet

decided to nationalize wildlife lands to allow indigenous

firms access to these lucrative businesses. National

Parks officials are working out the implementation

details. Land and legal experts have decried the

nationalization policy, arguing that no financial

institution would invest without collateral. The Zimbabwe

Independent quotes constitutional law expert Lovemore

Madhuku that the GOZ could only nationalize compulsorily

acquired land, as the constitution guaranteed private

property rights.

 

4. (U) An article in the GOZ-controlled Herald’s June 14

edition attempts to justify fast track land reform and

nationalization. The article traces the history of

slavery in Africa and the whites’ colonization of the

most arable land. It continues through the Lancaster

House negotiations and Britain’s broken promises, with

GOZ patiently waiting for 20 years before deciding to do

land reform on its own. While acknowledging, “the

process was not all that smooth and did not go according

to the desired plan”, the article paints an ordered

picture where parliament passed the Land Acquisition Act

and any problems are simply “to be expected”, or

happenstance. Nationalization is purportedly the next

logical step to “finally control[] all farmland just like

what [Zimbabwe’s] neighbors did years ago”. Mocking the

anger of white farmers, the author details how whites

moving to other African states are accepting 99-year

leases.

 

5. (SBU) Vitalis Chadenga, the National Parks and

Wildlife Authority’s Operations Director, told EconOff

that only compulsorily acquired wildlife land would be

leased for 25 years. The National Parks asked for 99-year

leases but was overruled. Chadenga declined to say by

whom. GOZ will require current conservancy owners to give

up an undisclosed percentage of their land ownership

while remaining on the land. The idea is to have current

owners impart their knowledge and expertise about

wildlife management to indigenous partners. The land

would not be fenced into smaller lots. The GOZ will

theoretically compensate (for improvements to the land

only) any current owner who decides not to continue on

the land.

 

6. (SBU) Chadenga assured EmbOff that the GOZ issues and

strictly enforces hunting licenses and permits according

to international conventions. He expressed surprise at

potential investor skittishness after nationalization.

However, once challenged to explain, Chadenga admitted

that access to investment capital could be problematic,

since typical loan terms required leases longer than 25

years. He ultimately admitted that investor confidence

would be shaken and could be disrupted, but continued to

express optimism that GOZ had learned from its farm land

reform mistakes.

 

7. (SBU) Chadenga claims only applicants with a

commitment to wildlife conservation and wildlife industry

viability would receive leases. Nationalization will not

affect the proposed Trans Frontier Conservation Area

(TFCA) between South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Settlers in National Parks and on private conservancies

would be re-settled in other areas. Chadenga also opined

that negotiated indigenization, like the proposed MOU

between Save Conservancy and Traditions, could proceed.

8. (SBU) Comment: The Herald’s back and forth reporting

on land nationalization confirms the party’s continued

confusion on its bread and butter land reform issue.

Mugabe’s refusal to weigh-in on this and other issues

leaves second echelon rivals to thrash things out with

little resolution. Moyo’s aggressive and vocal posture

reflects influence but not control over party matters.

 

9. (SBU) Comment cont’d: Chadenga’s surprise about

investor skittishness reveals the incomplete nature of

the policy. His belief that GOZ learned its lesson from

land reform simply does not bear out. From school

closures, selective anti-corruption enforcement, and the

continuing tax on exporters, GOZ has shown no sign of

learning from past mistakes. GOZ’s willingness to give

out private hunting concessions does not bode well for

controlling off-take. Sweeping high-level corruption in

the issuance of leases for hunting zones and aggressive

grabs by senior ZANU-PF officials seeking to gain a

monopoly on the lucrative safari trade, may well be the

template for what is in store for conservancies that are

currently in private (foreign) hands. It is, however,

encouraging that private deals made between conservancies

and indigenous groups may still be honored.

 

Sullivan

(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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