Nkomo was powerless on land reform


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Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front chairman John Nkomo was powerless in implementing meaningful land reform despite his seniority within ZANU-PF.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said there had been great expectations when Nkomo was appointed Minister of Special Affairs responsible for land reform, a post that had been occupied by Joseph Made, that he would be able to implement some of the recommendations from the Utete Commission which included one farmer-one farm policy.

Nkomo had, however, hit a dead end and there was little meaningful debate about how to rejuvenate the agricultural sector.

Nkomo was the fourth most powerful person in ZANU-PF after President Robert Mugabe and his two deputies.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1643, NKOMO OPEN TO DIALOGUE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1643

2004-09-30 05:46

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS HARARE 001643

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: NKOMO OPEN TO DIALOGUE

 

1. On September 27, Ambassador Dell met briefly with

Minister of Special Affairs for Lands, Land Reform, and

Resettlement and ZANU-PF Party Chairman John Nkomo in Nkomo’s

office. Nkomo welcomed the Ambassador to Zimbabwe and said he

was interested in developing a better relationship. He then

recited a familiar history of land and land reform in

Zimbabwe. Nkomo mulled over the problem of tenure in the new

land regime and seemed optimistic about the likely success of

99-year leases in helping A1 (smallholder) farmers secure

bank financing. Nkomo expressed optimism that money for land

reform would pour in once Zimbabwe’s international image

improved. In particular, he seemed to think Americans and

U.S. organizations wanted to assist but were simply afraid to

get involved in the land process because of the negative

publicity associated with Zimbabwe.

 

2. The Ambassador emphasized the importance of looking

forward, particularly since the GOZ acknowledged that its

land reform process was almost complete. The Ambassador also

told Nkomo that he was interested in how to make a success of

land reform by empowering the people. Nkomo expressed some

interest in U.S. help in studying land tenure issues.

 

——–

Comment:

——–

 

3. The recitation of the history of land in Zimbabwe is a

standard part of any meeting with GOZ Cabinet and ZANU-PF

party members. Nkomo added nothing new to the exchange in

that regard. If anything, his complaints about the

intricacies of land reform reveal his own impotence in the

land redistribution process.

 

4. When Nkomo was appointed to his newly created position in

February 2004, it was widely believed that Nkomo, because of

his seniority within the party, would be able to implement

some of the recommendations of the Utete Commission, such as

the one farmer-one farm policy. Nkomo, however, has hit a

dead end–there is little meaningful debate within the ruling

party over how to rejuvenate the deteriorating agriculture

sector. Land reform remains a sterile political issue

revolving around populist anti-colonial, racial themes

instead of real economic empowerment. Ironically, GOZ

failure to realize economic benefits from land reform fuels

resentment in ZANU-PF’s rural heartland, and frustration

among ZANU-PF elites, most of whom are saddled with

problematic farms themselves. End c

 

(8 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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