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Cablegate: Waiting for God or Sadc: Violent Farm Seizures,

VZCZCXRO2415
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0856/01 3011404
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281404Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5066
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2389
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3118
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3230
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1657
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2491
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2860
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3278
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5726
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2410
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000856

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L. DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN
STATE PASS TO DOL FOR S. HALEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB PGOV ASEC ZI
SUBJECT: WAITING FOR GOD OR SADC: VIOLENT FARM SEIZURES,
DISPLACEMENTS INCREASE

REF: HARARE 760

-------
SUMMARY
--------

1. (SBU) Poloff visits to farms in central Zimbabwe confirmed
continuing invasions of white-owned commercial farms by ZANU-PF
supporters, and associated violence and displacement of black
Zimbabwean farm workers. Police have refused to intervene.
Although politically-motivated violence has decreased since 2008,
land-related violence in violation of Zimbabwean and SADC court
orders is increasing. Farmers and farm workers have no recourse as
the government refuses to act to uphold its own court rulings.
Thousands of black Zimbabweans have already been displaced by the
farm invasions, and thousands more may be displaced in the coming
weeks and months. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The Commercial Farmers Union has told us that of the 4,500
white farmers in Zimbabwe before the land invasions, only 300-400
remain. Of those, at least half are engaged in protracted legal
battles which contribute to significant slow-downs on those farms
that are productive. The international media has historically
focused on the plight of white farm owners; this was portrayed by
ZANU-PF as proof positive of a racist western attitude toward
Zimbabwe. However, the greater and growing human rights and
humanitarian tragedy is the massive upheaval that black Zimbabwean
farm workers continue to suffer in the name of land reform, the
hallmark of the ZANU-PF party platform. According to the local
International Organization for Migration (IOM) office, at least
4,500 farm workers and their families have been displaced since the
beginning of the year as a result of the takeovers of white
commercial farms. The average family size in Zimbabwe is five
people, meaning that nearly 25,000 Zimbabweans have likely been
displaced in 2009 alone. In comparison, IOM estimated that at least
30,000 Zimbabweans were displaced in election-related violence in
2008.

3. (SBU) The soon-to-be released film "House of Justice" (Reftel)
documents human rights abuses suffered by black farm workers. After
viewing this film, on October 21 and 22, poloffs visited farm
workers and owners of five different farms near Chegutu (Mashonaland
West province) and Kwekwe (Midlands province) in central Zimbabwe.
All have come under serious threat since the beginning of 2009, and,
in a disturbing new trend, black farm workers have been increasingly
targeted for beatings, threats, and forced evictions by the "new
owners." Just a day after we met with a farmer whose property is
protected by a recent SADC ruling against interference by ZANU-PF,
his farm was invaded by dozens of drunk ZANU-PF supporters who
launched a tense, ongoing standoff with the owners that police
Qlaunched a tense, ongoing standoff with the owners that police
refuse to address (septel).

----------------------------
Workers Threatened, Evicted,
Struggling to Survive
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) In Chegutu, the District Organizer for the General
Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ),
Edward Dzeka, led us to several affected farms where we met workers.
Of the twelve white-owned farms in Chegutu, only one has not yet
been targeted. We first visited the Mt. Carmel farm owned by Ben
Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Campbell. Campbell was the lead

HARARE 00000856 002 OF 004


plaintiff in a major court case in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Tribunal that declared the Zimbabwean government's
land reform policy unconstitutional, in part because it is based on
race. In the November 2008 ruling, the Tribunal ordered that farm
invasions by ZANU-PF against the 78 plaintiffs must cease and that
the government compensate dispossessed farm owners by June 30, 2009.
Subsequent to the Court's decision, in September 2009, the homes of
Campbell and Freeth at Mt. Carmel, once the largest producer of
export-quality mangos in Zimbabwe, were burned.

5. (SBU) We hoped to speak with Freeth's farm workers who lived on a
compound just adjacent to the house. On arrival at Freeth's
property, we were met by a lone man who told us that the house now
belonged to ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira. When we asked
about the farm workers - since nobody else was around - he said they
had "gone into town."

6. (SBU) Down the road at the compound adjacent to Campbell's home
(which had also been taken over by Shamuyarira - as noted by a
ZANU-PF campaign poster with the slogan "Our Land, Our Sovereignty"
now attached to his gate), we met with the Mt. Carmel farm workers.
They told us that the workers who lived near Freeth's house had been
evicted the day before after repeated threats. The plight of the
Mt. Carmel farm workers was immediately evident. Although it was a
school day, numerous children roamed aimlessly and their parents
explained that they could not pay the US$3 fees for the nearby
public school. The workers told us they had not been paid in three
months and that they survived through intermittent piecework on
nearby farms.

7. (SBU) Some of the workers continue to help graze Campbell's
cattle. A foreman said he had been at Mt. Carmel since 1978 and
didn't know where he would go if evicted. With the takeover of
Campbell's home, he and the other 70 workers and their families also
lost access to the farm's four boreholes. Now the destitute workers
must trek roughly a mile to take water from a borehole on an
adjacent farm. Bruce Campbell, Mike Campbell's son, told us the
last of the four boreholes had broken and that police refused to
help him move the remaining 20 cattle from his farm. He feared that
unless action was taken soon, the cattle would die from
dehydration.

8. (SBU) When we asked the Mt. Carmel workers if anyone from
government had come to visit them to ask about their plight, one
woman laughed and sighed, "Ah, no. You are the only ones."

9. (SBU) Further down the road at the Wakefield tobacco farm, home
to approximately 1500 farmworkers and their families, manager
Charles Jongwe showed us the eviction papers delivered to him and
QCharles Jongwe showed us the eviction papers delivered to him and
the other workers on October 19. The owner, Ken Bartholomew, was in
Harare for the day working with his lawyer to block the evictions,
though the foreman expressed doubt that any court order would be
respected in light of the experience of other white farm owners in
Zimbabwe. Jongwe explained that his former house, directly adjacent
to the farm's workshop, was now occupied by surrogates for the new
"owner," Felix Pambukani. Jongwe told us that the take-over
attempts began in February 2009, and that he was jailed for 48 hours
in April and accused of "being violent" although the police did not
press charges against him.

10. (SBU) Jongwe told us that the once-productive tobacco farm now
lay idle as Pambukani's men refused to allow the workers to plant
this year's crop, which needed to be in the ground by the end of

HARARE 00000856 003 OF 004


November. Although most of last year's crop was sold, some rotted
in the curing sheds because of interference from Pambukani.
Pambukani's men recently sprayed herbicide on the seedlings they
intended to plant in an attempt to completely derail this year's
planting. Wakefield's employees fear for the future, having seen
the fate of the workers at the nearby Mt. Carmel farm. Since they
are unable to work, they spend their days keeping watch over the
farm's assets, bracing for a possible violent invasion.

-----------------------------------
It's Worth Crying Over Spilled Milk
-----------------------------------

11. (SBU) Rob Taylor, whose plight at Usasa Seedling farm near
Chegutu is featured in "House of Justice," told us that before the
last invasions between February and June, at one of the two farms he
managed, he had 138 cows. During the forced takeover, the invaders
refused to allow Taylor's workers to feed 17 calves, all of which
died. 30 other cows died from neglect, and the invaders
intentionally killed his bull, worth about US$4,000. He had managed
to move 60 cows to a field owned by the Pentecostal Church, but only
because he had convinced the invaders that he was selling the cows
as he moved them off the property. On October 16, when he attempted
to retrieve his last 20 cows, the invaders at the farm stoned his
truck, and one of the stones injured his driver in the ribs.

12. (SBU) The "new owner," Tendai Chasaoka forcibly took over the
farm in January with a purported government "offer letter." Since
January, Chasaoka, who is the director of the Chegutu Grain
Marketing Board, has forced Taylor to pay the electricity bills and
wages of the remaining eight workers. Taylor told us on October 21
that he needed to get money to pay them the next day, but he still
didn't know where he would get it. Taylor lamented that although
the farm was protected by high court orders and the SADC tribunal
ruling, and although he had given up the fight for the farm in order
to save his remaining herd, he continued to be the victim of
extortion, intimidation and violent attacks.


13. (SBU) Taylor, in true Zimbabwean fashion, has "made a plan" for
the future. He told us that if he could get milk pasteurizing and
packaging equipment, he could sell the milk his remaining 60 cows
are producing. Currently, because of erratic electricity and a
breakdown at the local Dairy Board, most of his cows' milk goes to
waste. He estimates the equipment and installation would cost
US$15,000, which he could probably pay off in six months. However,
since no bank will accept his cows as collateral, his plan remains
stalled until he can find a source for the loan. While Taylor, like
Qstalled until he can find a source for the loan. While Taylor, like
others, welcomes dollarization for the stability it has brought to
the economy, he lamented the continued lack of coins and its impact
on the local economy. He explained that a pint of milk sells for 50
cents, and the lack of change continues to deter planned purchases
of less than a dollar, particularly in rural areas.

-------
COMMENT
-------


14. (SBU) Although farm invasions were most widespread and violent
in 2000 and 2001, remaining farmers are subject to intimidation and
violence. Racism and inequality have always plagued Zimbabwe and
the continued racial treatment of the land issue by ZANU-PF has

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resulted in reluctance from the international community and even the
MDC, who are most susceptible to ZANU-PF's rhetoric, to speak out
for fear of appearing to support wealthy white farmers.
Significantly, however, farm workers - black Zimbabweans - are now
the primary targets of these attacks as they become an increasingly
victimized and overlooked population

15. (SBU) The SADC Tribunal ruling in November 2008 was a
significant victory for the Campbells and other dispossessed
farmers. The Zimbabwean government's decision to ignore the ruling
and pull out of the Tribunal is continued evidence of the absence of
rule of law. It is also disturbing that SADC countries have allowed
Zimbabwe to flout the ruling of their court. As one of the farm
workers says at the end of "House of Justice," "only God or SADC can
help us." END COMMENT.

PETTERSON

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