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Cablegate: New Land Seizure Law; Dutch Farmers Challenge

VZCZCXRO0761
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #1492/01 3550636
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210636Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0952
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1423
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1278
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1427
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0145
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0688
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1053
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1481
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3874
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1250
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1903
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1643

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001492

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EAGR ZI
SUBJECT: NEW LAND SEIZURE LAW; DUTCH FARMERS CHALLENGE
SEIZURES

REF: A. A) HARARE 1396

B. B) HARARE 1361

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) An Act requiring most farmers whose land was
compulsorily acquired by the GOZ to cease farming and vacate
their homes during the present summer growing season passes
into law on December 20. Over 700 farmers could face
eviction if the Act is implemented. In the meantime, an
international arbitration tribunal has begun hearing the case
of a group of evicted Dutch farmers. Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gono is reportedly concerned about
the possible seizure of Zimbabwe,s overseas assets if the
case is decided against the GOZ. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Eviction Bill Starts Clock Ticking for White Farmers
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (U) On December 20, the Gazetted Land (Consequential
Provisions) Act passed into law, setting the clock ticking
for the possible eviction of most of the remaining white
commercial farmers in Zimbabwe. The Act, gazetted on
December 8, requires all farmers whose land was compulsorily
acquired by the GOZ, and who are not in possession of an
official offer letter, permit or lease, to cease to occupy,
hold or use that land forty-five days (i.e. February 3, 2007)
after passage of the Act into law. The Act also requires
farmers to vacate their homes within 90 days (March 19,
2007). Failure to comply is a criminal offense punishable by
a fine and/or a sentence of up to two years.

3. (SBU) Commercial Farmers, Union (CFU) President Doug
Taylor-Freeme told us on December 11 that the Act could be
&the end of the road for agriculture,8 if implemented. In
a notice to its members, the CFU pointed out that the vast
majority of white commercial farmers still on the land have
complied with the GOZ,s criteria to continue farming: they
had offered land, downsized, co-existed with settlers, and
over 700 of them had applied for permission to stay on the
land through the A2 offer letter system. Yet barely a
handful of applicants had received an offer letter or lease
(Ref A). The CFU is, however, advising its members to
continue farming and has engaged a high-powered legal team
from South Africa.

-------------------------------
Dutch BIPPA Case Hearing Begins
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme also updated us on the dispute brought
to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment
Disputes (CISID) by evicted Dutch farmers. The group of
farmers is demanding that the Zimbabwe Government honor the
Netherland,s Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreement (BIPPA) with Zimbabwe. (Note. Other countries
with BIPPAs are France, Mauritius, Belgium, Sweden, Holland,
Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Germany. According to the CFU,
about 100-150 farmers from these countries could potentially
bring actions against Zimbabwe. End Note.)

5. (SBU) According to Taylor-Freeme, the GOZ failed to pay a
required US$150,000 advance payment to the Centre, citing

HARARE 00001492 002 OF 002


foreign exchange shortages, but the Dutch group had made the
payment on behalf of the GOZ to move the case forward. The
Dutch farmers, who rejected an out-of-court settlement of the
case, would attempt to put a lien on GOZ assets outside of
Zimbabwe.

6. (SBU) Taylor-Freeme said he had briefed RBZ Governor Gono
recently on the case and said Gono had appeared poorly
informed. Gono had called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
while with Taylor-Freem and had demanded a full dossier on
the dispute. Speaking in Shona (which Taylor-Freeme
understads), Gono had told the MFA official &we can,t have
a repeat of the Air Zimbabwe situation.8 (Note. n early
November Air Zimbabwe was forced to cancl its lucrative
London flight for several days rther than risk seizure of an
airplane by creditos. The RBZ intervened and paid the debt.
Ref B End Note.)

------
Update
------

7. (SBU) The Netherlands Embassy in Harare informed us that
an initial hearing was held in Paris on December 15. A
briefing schedule was set which will conclude in mid-August.
Zimbabwe was represented by two lawyers from the Attorney
General,s office in Harare. According to unconfirmed news
reports, GOZ Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele attempted
to obtain a visa to travel to Paris for the hearing, but was
refused a visa because he is on the EU sanctions list.

-------
Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Passage into law of the eviction act deepens the
pall of uncertainty over Zimbabwe,s remaining productive
farmers. In addition, if implemented, it could be a further
blow to Zimbabwe,s food security and to its foreign exchange
generating capacity, as evictions would occur at the height
of the cereal and tobacco growing season. While BIPPA
arbitrations may result in judgements for compensation for
some evicted farmers, hope is fading among the remaining
white farmers that the GOZ will provide them with secure
tenure.

SCHULTZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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