Properties of US citizens seized by government rise to 10


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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.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE507, ZIMBABWE: 2009 INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE507

2009-06-19 14:14

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4187

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

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2196

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 000507

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: EINV KIDE PGOV PHUM PREL ZI ECON

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: 2009 INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND

EXPROPRIATION REPORT

 

REF: STATE 49477

 

——

SUMMARY

——-

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

approximations only.

 

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

 

b.   2002

 

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

in 2009.

 

6. (SBU)   a. Claimant B

 

b.   2002

 

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

past year.

 

7. (SBU)   a. Claimant C

 

b.   2003

 

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

 

b.   2002

 

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

 

b.   N/A

 

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

 

b.   2004

 

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

 

b.   N/A

 

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

 

b.   2006

 

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

 

b.   2008

 

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

 

b.   2009

 

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

PAW singed.

 

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

signed.

 

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.

 

MCGEE

 

(13 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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