The United States was interested in the land issue in Zimbabwe because some of its citizens lost land to the government without any compensation even though in some cases the citizens had bought the farms after the government had declared no interest.
This is contained in one of the cables by then United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan who cited the case of seven citizens whose properties had been taken over.
The cable, released by Wikileaks, does not name the farmers affected. It was dispatched on 9 June 2003.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1165, 2003 INVESTMENT DISPUTE AND EXPROPRIATION REPORT –
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001165
STATE FOR AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/OIA, L/CID, CA/OCS/ACS
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: 2003 INVESTMENT DISPUTE AND EXPROPRIATION REPORT –
ZIMBABWE (CORRECTED COPY)
REF: A. SECSTATE 83098
¶B. 02 HARARE 01597
¶1. Summary: This year’s Expropriation Report updates some
claimants detailed in the 2002 report, and adds some
claimants whose property remains in limbo. As in last
year’s report, the only claimants are American citizen
(Amcit) owners of Zimbabwean real estate, both farming
property and rural/wildlife based property. All seven of
the identified Amcit-owned properties are threatened by the
ongoing Land Resettlement Program, with several owners
already off their land and several attempting to hold on.
No compensation has been paid to any Amcit property owner
for real property which has been seized and settled. End
¶2. Under the ongoing GOZ Land Resettlement Program, almost
all farm or wildlife property owned by non-indigenous
landowners has been targeted for compulsory acquisition. As
a central tenet of the program, 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. Because of the disarray this program has
imposed on the value of rural land, as well as the ongoing
economic chaos, there is no absolute value for any claim,
although values predating the current situation range from
US $200,000 to more than US $2,000,000. To date, no owners
have been compensated for property acquired by the GOZ under
this program. Post continues to track the situation
concerning seven separate properties owned by American
citizens, all of which have received either Preliminary or
Final Notices of Acquisition from the GOZ.
¶3. Because of the current judicial and political chaos, it
is difficult to state when (exactly) any landowner was
legally dispossessed; many landowners continue to press
claims and challenges to acquisition through Zimbabwe’s
courts. Further, even in instances where Zimbabwean courts
issue favorable rulings to such challenges, the police and
District Land Administrators usually refuse to enforce the
rulings. However, all claims arise out of the GOZ’s Land
Resettlement Program, which was embarked upon in 2000. It
is accurate to state that the majority of Amcit landowners
continue to be threatened with acquisition, and most already
have been denied control, possession and use of their
property. Individual sitreps are provided below.
¶4. As detailed in last year’s Expropriation Report (ref b),
Claimant A continues to be denied access to or use of his
rural wildlife-based property. The property is located in
the district of Mangwe, in the vicinity of Bulawayo.
Currently the property is occupied by two large-scale Zanu-
PF-connected beneficiaries, and other small claimants
continue to graze livestock on the property. Claimant A has
received relief through a Zimbabwe High Court ruling.
However, when he attempted to have his local authorities
enforce the order, he was told by his local land
administrator, “you may have won in the courts, but you have
lost politically…” Ambassador Sullivan has protested this
expropriation both through a Diplomatic Note and through
various meetings with GOZ representatives, to no avail.
¶5. Claimant B, whose situation was also reported (ref b)
last year, has now been completely dispossessed of his
agricultural property. The property is situated in the
district of Salisbury, in the vicinity of Harare. The
property has been “pegged” into eighty-four separate A2, or
“new commercial farmer,” plots. At last review,
approximately twenty-one plots were occupied by settlers.
Claimant B has also pursued a claim through the Zimbabwe
courts and has received no relief. Ambassador Sullivan has
protested this expropriation through a Diplomatic Note and
through personal communications with GOZ representatives.
¶6. Claimant C, the final Amcit detailed in last year’s
report (ref b), awaits some resolution on acquisition of his
small-holding agricultural property through Zimbabwe’s
chaotic legal system. The property is situated in the
district of Goromonzi, in the vicinity of Harare. A
“delisting” form was initiated and signed by the Provincial
Governor of Mashonaland East, but the two other required
signatures — those of Minister of Local Government Ignatius
Chombo and Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement Joseph Made — have never materialized, nor are
they likely to. In the interim, Claimant C has entered into
a sales agreement with a relative of the Chief Justice of
Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court, and hopes to cut his losses should
the sale go through by year’s end. Although there are
currently no settlers actually residing on or farming the
property, Claimant C has left the farm due to personal
security concerns. Ambassador Sullivan has protested this
expropriation through a Diplomatic Note and through personal
communications with GOZ representatives.
¶7. Claimant D, who had previously twice managed to get his
property “de-listed” after receiving initial notices of
acquisition (Section 5 notices), received a final notice of
acquisition (Section 8 notice) in January, 2003 — well
after the GOZ formally announced that “the land resettlement
program is complete” in August 2002. The property
(supporting photographic and hunting safaris) is located in
the district of Kwekwe, which lies between Harare and Gweru.
Claimant D is protesting the acquisition through Zimbabwe’s
courts. The property consists of 7,618 hectares dedicated
as a wildlife conservancy, and is home to a number of
endangered black rhino. Claimant D purchased the property
in 1985 after the seller offered it to the GOZ and received
a “certificate of no present interest,” and has since
received several Zimbabwe Investment Center (ZIC)
certificates indicating formal approval of the conservancy
as a wildlife development investment. Claimant D is
currently attempting to file for South African residency and
has expressed no hope of being allowed to stay on his
Zimbabwean property, into which he has invested the majority
of his retirement savings — close to US $1 million.
Ambassador Sullivan has protested this expropriation through
a Diplomatic Note and through personal communications with
the Governor of that province.
¶8. Two other Amcits, Claimants E and F, each face complete
dispossession, although Post has not received enough details
from the property owners to register a formal protest.
Claimant E’s rural wildlife-based property (supporting
photographic and hunting safaris), which was transferred
from a Zimbabwean spouse to a trust benefiting the couple’s
two Amcit children, is located in the district of Wankie
(Hwange). The property has reportedly been allocated to an
A2 settler from the Hwange area. Claimant E has only been
allowed to visit the property under police supervision to
remove personal property. Claimant F has two separate
pieces of rural wildlife-based property, both in the
vicinity of Bulawayo, one of which was ceded to the GOZ for
resettlement and one of which is reportedly occupied by
settlers. Claimant F resides in the US, and her affairs
have been complicated by inheritance issues. She is unable
to realize any revenue anticipated from the two properties.
¶9. One final Amcit, Claimant G, has received a Section 5
notice but is still in possession of the property. The
property (supporting photographic and hunting safaris) is
located in the district of Bikita, in the vicinity of
Chiredzi. This property is dedicated to a 26-farm wildlife
conservancy containing both black and white rhinos, and the
GOZ has repeatedly stated that it will address “true”
conservancies (meaning those owned by multiple owners in a
cooperative venture) with a long-promised policy on wildlife
concerns. The policy has yet to be articulated. In the
meantime, Claimant G continues to engage in dialogue with
the GOZ along with other Conservancy spokesmen, and hopes
for some resolution for the Conservancy as a whole.
However, the GOZ has made some indications that it expects
conservancies to “take on partners,” which is widely
interpreted as a demand that well-connected beneficiaries be
paid off in order for the conservancies to continue to
operate. As with the first four claimants, Ambassador
Sullivan has protested this attempted acquisition through a
Diplomatic Note and through personal communications with GOZ
¶10. We will continue to monitor the situation of these
Amcit property owners, and will continue to offer whatever
support we can. Any subsequent developments will be
reported as they occur.