Property claims by US citizens rise to eight


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Claims for compensation for properties of United States citizens targeted for compulsory acquisition by the government had risen to eight by mid 2007, according to the embassy in Harare.

The properties were valued at between US$100 000 and US$ 2 million.

According to the embassy the government had targeted almost all farm and wildlife property owned by non-indigenous land-owners for compulsory acquisition.

Though the government had consistently maintained that no compensation will be made for land itself, but that compensation would be made for improvements to the property, it had not yet compensated any of the American claimants.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE543, 2007 REPORT ON INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND EXPROPRIATION

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE543

2007-06-19 15:01

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9627

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0543/01 1701501

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 191501Z JUN 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1613

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1632

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1499

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1636

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0902

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1264

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1692

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4104

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1461

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2122

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0761

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1853

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000543

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. HILL

MSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L. DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

TREASURY FOR J RALYEA AND T. RAND

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

EB/IFD/OIA FOR HEATHER GOETHERT

L/CID FOR SAN MCDONALD

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: CASC EINV KIDE OPIC PGOV

SUBJECT: 2007 REPORT ON INVESTMENT DISPUTES AND EXPROPRIATION

CLAIMS – ZIMABAWE

 

REF: A) STATE 55422

 

B) 06HARARE0972

 

1. The US Government is aware of eight (8) claims of US persons

which may be outstanding against the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ).

All eight 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.

 

2. 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 $100,000

to more than $2,000,000.

 

3. In 2005, Parliament amended the constitution to grant title to

the government of all agricultural land 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 eight landowners were legally dispossessed. Therefore,

the dates of expropriation offered below are approximations only.

 

4. All eight 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. a. Claimant A

b. 2002

c. Claimant A reported that his property 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. Post has not had contact with Claimant A in the past year.

 

 

6. a. Claimant B

b. 2002

c. Claimant B had an 85-hectare flower-exporting farm 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

 

HARARE 00000543 002 OF 003

 

 

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. Post has not had contact with the claimant in the

past year.

 

7. 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. Claimant

has not responded to inquiries from Post.

 

8. 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 US 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 by March 2004. Claimant D

has asked the Embassy not to pursue this case through official

channels. In June 2007, the Claimant informed Post that there had

been no developments in the claim in the past year. The Claimant

believes that the settler who received the farm has vacated the

property and it is now uninhabited.

 

9. a. Claimant E

b. N/A

c. Claimant G 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 26-farm 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 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. 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). Claimant E informed us in

June 2007 that he, along with other conservancy members, continues

to negotiate a solution with the GOZ.

 

10. a. Claimant F

 

HARARE 00000543 003 OF 003

 

 

b. 2004

c. Claimant F owns a 996-hectare farm in his American wife’s

name after Claimant F’s son ran the farm into bankruptcy. Claimant

F 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 he

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 2007, Claimant F informed Post that there had been no change in

the status of the claim in the past year.

 

11. 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 planned

to establish 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 was contesting in the courts. Post has had no contact with

Claimant G in the past year.

 

12. a. Claimant H

b. 2006

c. 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 reside on the Nyanga site, where they grow

apples on part of the plot and sell them in the local market.

Although the plot is registered as a residential and not

agricultural property, it was gazetted (Section 5 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.

 

(9 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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