Police burn down more than 200 homesteads


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Riot police in Mashonaland West burnt down 237 homesteads on 8farms saying they wanted to remove communal farmers to make way for small-scale commercial farmers.

A Lawyer representing the communal farmers Alec Muchadehama, however, said the government wanted to make room for its political heavyweights.

He said some settlers claimed they had seen ZANU-PF MP for Chinhoyi Phillip Chiyangwa and the President’s sister, MP for Zvimba South Sabina Mugabe, in the area prior to this incident.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1594, Police Burn Out Farmers

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1594

2004-09-23 14:32

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 HARARE 001594

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D.TEITELBAUM

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

 

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: Police Burn Out Farmers

 

1.   (SBU)   SUMMARY: On September 14, 237 homesteads on 8

farms were burned down by riot police in Mashonaland West

province. The government announced that it was removing the

A1 (communal) farmers settled there to make way for A2

(individual land holders) farmers. Local attorney Alec

Muchadehama, who is representing the displaced farmers,

estimated that at least 600 people were affected. He said

the displaced farmers claimed that the GOZ wanted to make

room for its political heavyweights to seize the farms. END

SUMMARY.

 

2.   (SBU) On September 20, Muchadehama told Embassy

political staff that he applied for an expoliation order (an

order asking the court to restore the status quo before the

unlawful act took place) and an injunction to prevent the

police from going back to the farms. Muchadehama said the

court application would go before High Court Justice Rita

Makarau on September 22. The government served the farmers

with notice on September 10, to leave the land by September

22. Muchadehama said that the GOZ ignored its own notice,

and riot police descended upon the settlers at 7:30 am on

September 14 to burn the homes. The burned homes stretched

from the Chinhoyi area all the way up to Inkomo barracks.

(N.B., These farmers had been encouraged to set up homes on

the land, at that time owned by white commercial farmers, by

the GOZ in 2000, and had been farming for their own

consumption since then.)

 

3.   (SBU) Muchadehama said that the A1 farmers claimed to

have been told that the farms were going to be given to Zanu-

PF heavy weights. Some settlers claim to have seen familiar

faces visit the area, such as Zanu-PF MP for Chinhoyi,

Phillip Chiyangwa and the President’s sister, MP for Zvimba

South Sabina Mugabe, prior to this incident.

 

4.   (SBU) International aid groups such as the

International Organization for Migration (IOM) are trying to

assess the level of humanitarian assistance that is required

to help the displaced farmers and their families. IOM was

scheduled to meet with the Ministry of Public Service, Labor

and Social Welfare September 17 to discuss the situation.

According to IOM officials, the Ministry agreed to send

representatives to participate in the IOM assessment and

would send IOM a letter to that effect.

 

5.   (SBU) Muchadehama said that there also have been

reports of another possible displacement in Macheke.

Although the police have not yet destroyed any homes in this

area, they have made threats to do so. There are 58

families that were re-settled in Macheke in 2003.

 

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The burning out of hundreds of families

signals a shift in the pattern of violence in Zimbabwe’s

beleaguered agricultural sector. Fights over possession of

rural properties now rarely involve white commercial

farmers, as they did in the past. Rather, they pit party

elite against party elite or, as, in this case, party elite

against powerless small holders. It is not as yet clear who

the principals behind the removals are in this case, but

they may well provoke outcry from both the opposition and

rivals within the ruling party. The last indigenous farmer

against indigenous farmer spat evolved into a front-page war

of words between Vice President Msika and Minister of

Agriculture Made.

(20 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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