Cablegate: Zimbabwe: Reports of Involuntary Relocation Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

O 220720Z Oct 02



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Zimbabwe: Reports of involuntary relocation of
ex-commercial farm workers to Zambezi River basin

REF: Harare 2310

1. Summary: OFDA/Humanitarian Response Advisor in
Zimbabwe has received unconfirmed but credible reports
of forced relocations of a large group of ex-commercial
farm workers. Post views this as an extremely serious
development and is concerned that it may signal the
beginning of a pattern of forced relocation and
displacement that could affect a significant number of
the estimated 1-1.5 million displaced farm workers and
their families, many of whom the GOZ considers
officially not to be Zimbabwean citizens. While many
commercial farm workers originate from other countries
in the region, large numbers of them have been resident
in Zimbabwe for several generations, have no
documentation from their countries of origin and should
be considered de facto Zimbabweans. Reported
relocations are apparently to remote sites close to
borders from which relocatees may be encouraged to
return to their countries of origin. International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also hearing
stories of forced relocations and trying to gain access
to the area. OFDA advisor will continue to try to
verify these reports directly including, if possible,
travel to reported relocation sites to interview
affected populations. End Summary

2. OFDA/Humanitarian Response Advisor (HRA) traveled
with Ambassador Hall's group to northern Zimbabwe on
October 10 to observe a food distribution and do
reconnaissance of the area. Ambassador Sullivan, USAID
Mission Director and Mission Disaster Officer
accompanied. The event took place at the Chiweshi
public school in the Muzarabani District on the Zambezi

3. In the course of the visit, OFDA/HRA met with a World
Food Program (WFP) food monitor at the distribution who
said that up to 5,000 farm workers and family members
were being assembled in the Gaierezi area in the Zambezi
valley. The WFP food monitor said that some of the farm
workers were trucked to these locations. Two political
jurisdictions, Chadereka and Dambakurima, were
mentioned. These are ward names which are political sub-
jurisdictions of districts.

4. The displacement and trucking operation was described
as follows: New settlers take over the farms vacated by
commercial farmers. Settlers insist on moving into the
farm workers' houses and force them to vacate the
premises. Wanting the ex-farm workers and house
occupants out of sight and out of mind, settlers force
former occupants to board lorries for movement to remote
sites in the Zambezi plain. On arrival at relocation
sites, they are unloaded. According to the WFP monitor,
it is the new farmers/settlers who were responsible for
trucking the ex-farm workers out of the region and there
is no clear evidence of direct Government of Zimbabwe
involvement. On arrival at the Zambezi plain, the
displaced farm workers and their families must fend for
themselves with whatever few personal possessions they
were able to carry, no access to farmable land, no seeds
and tools with which to begin farming, and no access to
humanitarian assistance.

5. OFDA/HRA, operating under concern that farm workers
with no jobs and no food would begin to move somewhere
(see septel), has for several weeks been trying to
locate groupings of them in parts of Zimbabwe.
Information developed on this trip with Ambassadors Hall
and Sullivan is the first report of trucks being used to
relocate ex- farm workers. Note: if events as reported
by the WFP monitor are true and accurate, based on an
assumed lorry capacity of 50 people and a total number
of 5,000 people moved, that would mean 100 lorry trips
in total over a short period of time and signal a
systematically planned event as opposed to a spontaneous

6. In an effort to corroborate the report, OFDA/HRA put
forward an urgent alert October 11 to the UNDP/Relief
and Rehabilitation Unit (RRU), the WFP, ICRC, and local
Zimbabwean groups seeking answers to the following

- Did this movement as reported indeed happen?
- If so, how many people were involved?
- Is there any indication that the GOZ was in any way
involved in this movement?
- What is known about the current condition of the
people who were reported to have been moved?
- If the report is true, is there any organization
prepared to provide food or other necessary assistance?
- Is this action being replicated anywhere else in the
- Is there any significance to depositing these people
close to the Mozambican border?

7. On October 16, OFDA/HRA met with representatives of
the non-governmental organizations Justice for
Agriculture (JAG) and General Agricultural and
Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) to try to
confirm the October 10 information. GAPWUZ officials
advised that people had been or were being moved to
these sites. One GAPWUZ representative indicated that a
relative from the area had noted a substantial increase
in the number of farm workers in the area. She described
the relocation area as "inhospitable." Over the course
of the week, JAG representatives asserted that the
reports of trucking were true and speculated that the
trucks used were from the GOZ District Development Fund
(DDF), but this allegation has not been confirmed.

8. OFDA/HRA is also exploring the possibility that these
workers may have come from Guruve in the north west
corner of Mashonaland Central adjacent to the Mozambique
border. Earlier unconfirmed reports from Justice for
Agriculture asserted that some 2,500 farm workers in the
Guruve area had been told that they must "get out or
die." Based on an average family size of 6, this would
mean that some 14,000 people in total could be involved.
JAG representatives saw farm workers sitting alongside
the road with their possessions September 25.

9. Despite various efforts to locate them, the Guruve
farm workers were never found. OFDA/HRA and other
humanitarian agencies now suspect that they could be
among those relocated to the Chadereka and Danakurima
areas. OFDA/HRA will try to confirm whether these
people were trucked using official GoZ District
Development Fund (DDF) trucks. DDF is responsible for
supplying "new farmers" with the necessary inputs for
the upcoming agricultural season and are essentially GOZ

10. OFDA/HRA's concern is that ex-farm workers with few
options are being moved to places near borders that are
out of sight and therefore out of mind from
international observers. There is a high level of GoZ
political control of these areas, which have few entry
roads of significance. ICRC is reporting suspicious
signs of political control in the sense that people on
the ground in the Muzarabani District were attempting to
limit their access to the area. Efforts are being made
to determine if similar groups of people are showing up
near the eastern Mozambique border north of Nyamaroda.

11. Conservative estimates are that the total number of
farm workers and family members is 1.0 to 1.5 million.
If true, that would constitute nearly one out of every 8
people in Zimbabwe. According to GAPWUZ, approximately
60% of ex-commercial farm workers are of foreign
extraction, i.e., from Malawi, Mozambique, or Zambia and
are without official legal documentation. However, as
reported earlier in septel, most of these workers have
been in Zimbabwe for several generations, have no
remaining official connection to or documentation from
their countries of origin, and should be considered de-
facto Zimbabweans.

12. Comment: Post considers reports of forced relocation
of ex-commercial farm workers to be credible and will
make every effort over the next week to verify
information including an estimate of the magnitude of
the problem. To this end, OFDA/HRA will attempt to
locate and conduct interviews directly with the affected
populations at relocation sites. JAG representatives,
who have been briefed on how to negotiate their way into
and out of the area, are planning to go there October 19
and are expected back October 20. OFDA/HRA is planning
to go to the area as well with Christian Care, the WFP
food distributor in the area. If reports are true, the
situation would constitute a very serious concern for
OFDA and other international organizations providing
humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in
Zimbabwe. Furthermore, forced relocation of ex-farm
workers, many of whom the GOZ considers to be non-
citizens, would constitute an extremely serious and
negative development in the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe.

13. OFDA/HRA will provide by septel a description of
efforts to date to systematize information collection
about the IDPs, inherent difficulties in collecting that
information, role and position of the UNDP/Relief and
Recovery Unit on the issue, and recommendations on
necessary support from the international community to
assist in this effort. SULLIVAN

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