Though the responsibility of lands had been removed from Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and handed over to John Nkomo, evictions resumed at a faster pace under Nkomo who had been hailed as a moderate.
The government was no longer required to deliver eviction notices to farmers but simply to publicise the acquisitions.
The result was a more rapid, less bureaucratic eviction process with fewer legal obstacles.
According to the United States embassy though the government handed out only several dozen eviction notices between January and March, it had already issued about 200 through the new Ministry in April.
Viewing cable 04HARARE671, Land Reform Picks Up Steam Again
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000671
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Land Reform Picks Up Steam Again
Ref: a) Harare 579 b) Harare 634 c) Harare 655
¶1. Summary: After several month lull, the GOZ has
reintensified its redistribution of white-owned farms.
Using an expedited process, it has issued notices to
about 200 farms this month. End summary.
¶2. The GOZ has recently made two significant changes in
the manner it expropriates farms. First, under the most
recent amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, it is no
longer required to deliver the various eviction notices
(there were usually a series of three) to farmers and may
simply publicize them. Second, a new Ministry of Lands,
Land Reform and Rural Resettlement headed by John Nkomo
now issues the notices. The Ministry of Agriculture
headed by Joseph Made no longer performs this function.
¶3. The result is a more rapid, less bureaucratic eviction
process with fewer legal obstacles. While GOZ handed out
only several dozen eviction notices January-March, it has
already issued about 200 through the new Ministry in
April. According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU),
the GOZ is also eliminating one step (so-called section
5’s) in the process. The CFU also reports that the GOZ
is displacing an increasing number of A2s (resettled
commercial farmers) with other A2s. This may indicate
Nkomo’s Ministry is trying to remove A2s for not farming
or in favor of competing ZANU-PF interests, or – although
unsubstantiated – to reduce multiple farm beneficiaries.
¶4. The media have reported several high-profile farm
takeovers this month, including MP Roy Bennet’s
Charleswood Farm (ref b) and Kondozi Farm. We will
report septel on Charleswood’s seizure. Kondozi became a
personal battle between Agriculture Minister Made and
several courts, which had sided with the present owners.
Absentee white owners had brought in a black partner to
preempt eviction. The GOZ has also served notice to
several sugar agro-businesses (mostly belonging to Anglo-
American and other South African firms).
¶5. The recent flurry of farm takeovers directed by
“moderate” John Nkomo’s Ministry suggests the GOZ is
still committed to gain control of most or all land,
notwithstanding its effect on the economy or
contradictions with earlier GOZ statements that land
redistribution has been completed. We are not sure how
many whites will remain farmers when the land reform dust
finally settles. At last count, the CFU calculated that
600 of 4,500 were still farming, but the organization is
trying to update those totals. Many remaining white
farmers have either struck deals with the GOZ at some
level or aligned with black partners. In his
Independence Day speech, President Mugabe indicated the
GOZ would now turn to agro-businesses and conservancies,
but he did not offer specifics. Beyond the abstract goal
of indigenizing these sectors, certain GOZ officials seem
to want to advance their own commercial interests in
these sectors while diminishing those of political
rivals. As noted in recent reports (refs a & c), we fear
the GOZ may turn back environmental gains by applying a
statist or unsustainable model to conservancies.