Cablegate: Police Burn Out Farmers

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





E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Police Burn Out Farmers

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 14, 237 homesteads on 8
farms were burned down by riot police in Mashonaland West
province. The government announced that it was removing the
A1 (communal) farmers settled there to make way for A2
(individual land holders) farmers. Local attorney Alec
Muchadehama, who is representing the displaced farmers,
estimated that at least 600 people were affected. He said
the displaced farmers claimed that the GOZ wanted to make
room for its political heavyweights to seize the farms. END

2. (SBU) On September 20, Muchadehama told Embassy
political staff that he applied for an expoliation order (an
order asking the court to restore the status quo before the
unlawful act took place) and an injunction to prevent the
police from going back to the farms. Muchadehama said the
court application would go before High Court Justice Rita
Makarau on September 22. The government served the farmers
with notice on September 10, to leave the land by September
22. Muchadehama said that the GOZ ignored its own notice,
and riot police descended upon the settlers at 7:30 am on
September 14 to burn the homes. The burned homes stretched
from the Chinhoyi area all the way up to Inkomo barracks.
(N.B., These farmers had been encouraged to set up homes on
the land, at that time owned by white commercial farmers, by
the GOZ in 2000, and had been farming for their own
consumption since then.)

3. (SBU) Muchadehama said that the A1 farmers claimed to
have been told that the farms were going to be given to Zanu-
PF heavy weights. Some settlers claim to have seen familiar
faces visit the area, such as Zanu-PF MP for Chinhoyi,
Phillip Chiyangwa and the President's sister, MP for Zvimba
South Sabina Mugabe, prior to this incident.

4. (SBU) International aid groups such as the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) are trying to
assess the level of humanitarian assistance that is required
to help the displaced farmers and their families. IOM was
scheduled to meet with the Ministry of Public Service, Labor
and Social Welfare September 17 to discuss the situation.
According to IOM officials, the Ministry agreed to send
representatives to participate in the IOM assessment and
would send IOM a letter to that effect.

5. (SBU) Muchadehama said that there also have been
reports of another possible displacement in Macheke.
Although the police have not yet destroyed any homes in this
area, they have made threats to do so. There are 58
families that were re-settled in Macheke in 2003.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The burning out of hundreds of families
signals a shift in the pattern of violence in Zimbabwe's
beleaguered agricultural sector. Fights over possession of
rural properties now rarely involve white commercial
farmers, as they did in the past. Rather, they pit party
elite against party elite or, as, in this case, party elite
against powerless small holders. It is not as yet clear who
the principals behind the removals are in this case, but
they may well provoke outcry from both the opposition and
rivals within the ruling party. The last indigenous farmer
against indigenous farmer spat evolved into a front-page war
of words between Vice President Msika and Minister of
Agriculture Made.

© Scoop Media

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