The number of properties by United States citizens that had been acquired by the government under its land reform programme had risen to 10 but according to the United States embassy none of the people affected had asked the embassy to intervene beyond raising the issue of compensation.
The value of the properties ranged from $100 000 to $2 million.
The government amended the constitution in 2005 to prevent landowners whose land had been acquired by the state from challenging this in court.
Viewing cable 09HARARE507, ZIMBABWE: 2009 INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0507/01 1701414
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191414Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4637
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2901
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3020
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1452
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2283
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2650
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3068
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5511
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2196
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 000507
AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: 2009 INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND
REF: STATE 49477
¶1. (SBU) The United States Government is aware of ten (10)
claims of United States persons which may be outstanding
against the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ). All ten claims
arise out of the GOZ’s Land Resettlement Program, which
commenced in 2000. The general pace of land seizure has
slowed, as very few non-indigenous commercial farmers are
left on their properties. Nevertheless threats of seizure by
individuals and government officials are unabated and
disruptions to the operation of the remaining non-indigenous
commercial farmers are frequent. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (SBU) Under its continuing Land Resettlement Program, the
GOZ has targeted almost all farm or wildlife property owned
by non-indigenous landowners for compulsory acquisition. The
GOZ has consistently maintained that no compensation will be
made for land itself, but that compensation will be made for
improvements to the property. However, to date, the GOZ has
not compensated any American Claimants for either acquired
property or improvements to property. Disruptions posed by
land reform and the economy’s generally chaotic conditions
complicate meaningful valuation of the land or of any
improvements made. However, the values of the eight American
citizen Claimants, properties at issue range from USD
100,000 to more than USD 2,000,000.
¶3. (SBU) In 2005, Parliament amended the constitution to
grant title to the government of all agriculturalland
acquired in the past under the land reform program and any
agricultural land that may be acquired in the future. The
amendment removed the right of landowners, whose land has
been acquired, to challenge the acquisition in court. There
has been no progress either on the ground or in the courts to
resolve compensation issues for the American-owned
properties. Because of judicial and political chaos during
the land seizures, it is difficult to state precisely when
most of the ten landowners were legally dispossessed.
Therefore, the dates of seizure offered below are
¶4. (SBU) Nine of the ten properties have received either
Preliminary or Final Notices of Acquisition from the GOZ.
Most of the American citizens affected have not asked the
Embassy to intervene beyond raising the issue of compensation
with appropriate GOZ officials in our normal course of
meetings and through diplomatic notes.
¶5. (SBU) a. Claimant A
c. Claimant A reported that his 2,969 hectare game ranch
in Marula, Matabeleland South province, had been invaded by
approximately eight war veterans, and that a prosperous and
connected Zimbabwean was grazing his cattle on the property.
Approximately 60 sables had been released from a grazing pen
and had subsequently disappeared ) either escaped from the
property or poached. Last contact with Claimant A was in
June 2008, when the Claimant reported no change in the
QJune 2008, when the Claimant reported no change in the
situation. Claimant has not responded to inquiries from Post
¶6. (SBU) a. Claimant B
HARARE 00000507 002 OF 005
c. Claimant B had an 85-hectare flower)exporting farm in
Mashonaland East province that was listed for compulsory
acquisition by the GOZ under an initial notice of acquisition
(Section 5 notice). In 2004 the Mashonaland East Governor
signed a “delisting” form, but the Local Government and Land
Ministries refused to assent. Claimant B then attempted to
sell his property to the nephew of the Chief Justice of
Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court, but the sale fell through as the
nephew reneged on payment. Claimant B is off the farm, and
the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General
Constantine Chiwenga, currently farms the land. In June
2009, Claimant reported no change in the situation in the
¶7. (SBU) a. Claimant C
c. Claimant C received a final notice of acquisition
(Section 8 notice) in January, 2003. Claimant C purchased
the 7,618-hectare property in 1985 with Zimbabwe Investment
Center (ZIC) certificates to run a hunting and photographic
safari business. The property is part of a 17-farm, 80,000
hectare private wildlife conservancy that receives donor
funding for the conservation of black rhinos. However
poaching in recent years has reduced the black rhino
population from 55 to 22 and jeopardized donor funding. The
conservancy owners are being harassed by some members of the
local population, who are demanding a revenue share in the
conservancy. Claimant C has stopped his safari business, as
he claimed invaders had poached all of the game. Claimant C
had been protesting the acquisition through Zimbabwe’s
courts. After receiving permanent residency in South
Africa, Claimant C was laying the groundwork to emigrate but,
at last contact, was unable to secure the proper
documentation to move personal belongings out of Zimbabwe.
In June 2009, Claimant C reported no change in the situation
in the past year.
¶8. (SBU) a. Claimant D
c. Claimant D’s rural wildlife-based property, which was
transferred from a Zimbabwean spouse to a trust benefiting
the couple’s two U.S. citizen children, is located in the
district of Hwange. Claimant D used the 420-hectare property
primarily for hunting and photographic safari purposes. The
property was allocated to a Zimbabwean settler who has done
nothing with the land. Claimant D left the farm on October
1, 2002 and the settler kicked off all of Claimant D’s
employees from the land by March 2004. Claimant D has asked
the Embassy not to pursue this case through official
channels. In May 2008, Claimant reported no change in the
situation in the past year. Claimant has not responded to
inquiries from Post in 2009.
¶9. (SBU) a. Claimant E
c. Claimant E has received a Section 5 notice but is still
in possession of the property in the district of Bikita in
southern Zimbabwe. This property is dedicated to a
Qsouthern Zimbabwe. This property is dedicated to a
26-property wildlife conservancy containing both black and
white rhinos. The GOZ has announced plans to implement a
land tenure scheme whereby title of conservancies reverts to
the State, which then grants a 25-year lease to each property
HARARE 00000507 003 OF 005
owner. In return, the current owners would agree to
indigenize their businesses through shareholder equity. The
25-year leases would be automatically renewable, but not
transferable. In 2008, Ambassador Dell raised Claimant E’s
case with Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema, who
indicated that he would like to see Claimant E and the rest
of the conservancy join the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area
(a park linking tracts in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South
Africa). In 2009, Ambassador McGee again raised Claimant E’s
case with Zimbabwean government officials. Claimant E
informed Post in 2009 that he, along with other conservancy
members, continue to negotiate a solution with the GOZ that
will address ownership and joining the TFCA.
¶10. (SBU) a. Claimant F
c. Claimant F owns a 996-hectare farm and does not have a
Zimbabwe Investment Certificate. Claimant F was able to move
much of his irrigation and farm equipment off the property
prior to losing control of the farm but lost 170 head of
cattle. Settlers first arrived on the farm in 2000 but
Claimant F maintained good relations with them and local
police, and Claimant continued to have access to the farm
until 2004. From May to July 2004, Claimant F received
Section 5 and Section 8 notices of acquisition and asked the
Embassy to write a diplomatic note protesting the intended
acquisition. The Embassy did so and received a pro forma
response. Shortly thereafter, Claimant F was no longer
afforded access to the farm and was effectively dispossessed
of the land. There have been no further developments on the
ground and Claimant F decided not to use the courts as the
GOZ was not enforcing judgments adverse to its own interests.
In June 2009, Claimant F informed Post that there had been
no change in the status of the claim in the past year.
¶11. (SBU) a. Claimant G
c. Registered in 1997, Claimant G is a subsidiary trust of
a California-registered Non-Profit Religious Organization
that established an environmental and life skills teaching
center operating near Kadoma. Claimant G purchased the
160-hectare parcel in 1999 but has been unable to obtain a
proper transfer of title. Nonetheless, in addition to having
exclusive use of the land since 1999, Claimant G has the
Agreement of Sale as proof of purchase. In November 2004,
Claimant G received a Section 5 initial notice of
acquisition, to which it responded in court as well as by
correspondence to various Zimbabwean government entities.
Claimant G also received a Section 8 notice of immediate
acquisition, which it is contesting in the courts. More
recently, the Ministry of Education has interceded on
Claimant G’s behalf, which has allowed them to remain on the
property. Last contact with the Claimant was in 2009.
¶12. (SBU) a. Claimant H
c. Claimant H informed the Embassy in April, 2006 that he
Qc. Claimant H informed the Embassy in April, 2006 that he
was the owner, along with his non-American citizen parents,
of a 33-hectare plot in Nyanga, Eastern Highlands. Claimant
H resides in Mozambique; his parents resided on the Nyanga
site, where they grew apples on part of the plot and sold
them in the local market. Although the plot is registered as
a residential and not agricultural property, it was gazetted
HARARE 00000507 004 OF 005
(Section 5 initial notice of acquisition) for takeover. In
April 2007, the Claimant informed Post that his parents had
been forced off the land. It is becoming increasingly clear,
however, that the Amcit is a minority share holder and his
parents, who are not Amcits, are the majority landowner.
Claimant has not responded to inquiries from Post in 2009.
¶13. (SBU) a. Claimant I
c. Claimant I is an American citizen and owns a 101-acre
flower farm just north of Harare that was managed by a tenant
farmer since 2004. Claimant I currently resides in South
Africa and informed Post in December 2008 that their tenant
farmers were being forced off the farm by a group of
individuals claiming to represent an unnamed ZANU-PF member
of Parliament. The group bore a final notice of acquisition
(Section 8 Notice) for the property. Claimant I is the only
living title holder to the property. In June 2009, Claimant
I told the Embassy that an employee of the tenant farmer was
shot and killed during the takeover.
¶14. (SBU) a. Claimant J
c. Claimant J is an American citizen who purchased an idle
farm in Mutorashanga in Mashonaland West province in the mid
1990s and revitalized the property in conjunction with two
local partners. Claimant J owns approximately half of the
enterprise which includes both cattle and planted crops.
Beginning in 2002, the niece of the President of Zimbabwe
began demanding that Claimant J and his partners leave the
property and periodically settled groups of people on the
property to harass the residents. This person had previously
seized five other farms. In April 2009, the local partners
were forced off the property after being threatened with
violence. The settler did not present any documentation
claiming the property and defied three local High Court
rulings stating that Claimant J and his partners held legal
title and had a right to remain on the farm. The settler has
reduced the cattle from 150 cows to 20 cows and sold valuable
farming equipment including tractors and irrigation systems.
Claimant J runs a Christian NGO and divides his time between
Florida, Maine, and various African locations. Last contact
with Claimant J was in June 2009.
¶15. (SBU) List of Claimant names:
Claimant A: William Holmes Taylor IV and two sons, all
American citizens, with property owned in trust by Emblehope
Enterprises (Pvt.) Ltd., a Zimbabwean entity. Taylor and his
two sons are the primary beneficiaries. No PAW signed.
Claimant B: Edward Galante, an American citizen, with the
property owned by Machera Farming Enterprises (Pvt.) Ltd., a
Zimbabwean entity. Galante and his two AmCit children are
the primary beneficiaries. No PAW signed.
Claimant C: Sam and Janet Chambliss, both American citizens.
The property is owned by Twin Springs Conservancy (Pvt.) Ltd.
With Sam and Janet Chambliss as the sole shareholders. No
QWith Sam and Janet Chambliss as the sole shareholders. No
Claimant D: Debbie Rabinovitch and minor children Diane and
Desmond Rabinovitch, all American citizens. The property is
owned by a Zimbabwean trust of which Diane and Desmond are
the beneficiaries. No PAW signed.
HARARE 00000507 005 OF 005
Claimant E: Weldon and Kathy Schenck, both American citizens.
The property is owned by a Zimbabwean trust due to
interrelated obligations of conservancy landowners. No PAW
Claimant F: Terry and Joan Ryan, husband is Zimbabwean and
wife is American citizen. The property is owned under J.T.
Management Consultancy (Pvt.) Ltd. No PAW signed.
Claimant G: Lasting Impressions Wilderness Training
Corporation, aregistered California Non-Profit Religious
organization, which wholly owns and controls The Lasting
Impressions Trust, a Zimbabwean entity. Shelly Croudace, a
director of The Lasting Impressions Trust is our contact and
is an American citizen as well. No PAW signed.
Claimant H: Lance Edwards, an American citizen. It is our
understanding the Mr. Edwards lives in Mozambique and owns a
small share in the property. It has been the principle
residence of his non-American parents. No PAW signed.
Claimant I: Patricia Dillon, an American citizen. Ms.
Dillon lives in South Africa and has retained Mike Smith
(likely Zimbabwean commercial farmer) since 2004 as tenant
farmer. No PAW signed.
Claimant J: Mike Henderson, an American citizen. Mr.
Henderson runs a Christian NGO and divides his time between
Florida, Maine, and Africa. He owns about half of a farm in
Mutorashanga and is represented locally by attorney David
Drury. He and his two local partners were evicted from their
farm by President Mugabe’s niece in April 2009. No PAW signed.