Friday, December 30, 2016

(NEWZIMBABWE) Farm row: F/affairs, lands ministers clash as diaspora returnee et al farmers take eviction

COMMENT - The same corrupting factor again - Tongaat Hulett, South African regional sugarcane refining monopolist. Tongaat Hulett is at least 20% owned by Anglo-American Corporation, the same company that holds 85% of De Beers, the diamond monopolist. (Also see: The Diamond Empire, 1994) Anglo-American Corporation was formed in 1917 by sir Ernest Oppenheimer and J.P. Morgan, Rothschild baron associated family member and their US agent, respectively. (Read: The House Of Rothschild, by prof. Niall Ferguson) It's the Rothschild Barons. The reason I say all this, is because it is important to know that whether it's the IMF/WB setting conditionalities like ESAP, De Beers going after the Chiadzwa and Marange diamond fields, or Tongaat Hulett bribing minister Douglas Mombeshora, the reason it is all in the same interest isn't some general class interest or 'White Monopoly Capital', but the interest of one very wealthy very specific family. - MrK

A source said the government had been put under pressure to honour its obligations under the BIPPA arrangement hence the speed with which it moved to evict the farmers.

A farmer who spoke to last week said government had been put under pressure by “senior sugar business people” and that large sums of money had exchanged hands.

(NEWZIMBABWE) Farm row: F/affairs, lands ministers clash as diaspora returnee et al farmers take eviction to court
by Mthulisi Mathuthu

THE dispute over the Triangle Ranch in Masvingo turned ugly this week with the foreign affairs department accusing the minister of lands of resettling A2 farmers on the property without following “proper procedures”. reported last week on the eviction with “immediate effect” of the farmers from a part of the sugar cane ranch which was acquired from Tongaat Hulett and subdivided into various plots for the resettlement of 174 A2 farmers.

On Wednesday, the Lowveld Sugar Cane Growers Association, mostly diaspora returnees, children of liberation war heroes and poor people, filed an urgent chamber application for an interdict. The association is part of the Hippo Valley Farmers Association-the broader group which represents the 290 farmers issued with the offer letters by Minister Douglas Mombeshora in April this year.

The hearing started on Thursday and will continue on Friday after lawyers from the foreign affairs said they needed time to file opposing papers because they needed to obtain affidavits from Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and the Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha. Only the lands ministry had filed opposing papers by Thursday.

The matter is being heard by High Court judge Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo. The farmers are being represented by Mberi and Associates while the foreign affairs department is represented by Mumbengegwi and Partners.

The farmers made the urgent application to stop their immediate eviction pending another application to the Administrative Court which opens next month.

In his eviction order, minister Mombershora said the farmers should “cease all or any operations” and leave the property “immediately” because the “purpose for withdrawal outweighs the representations” made by the applicants.

But the farmers argue that they should be allowed to harvest their sugar cane while government must compensate them.

A member of the association told that during the brief appearance on Thursday, officials from the foreign affairs were “clearly unhappy” with the urgent application, labelling the evictees “enemies of the state”.

The spokesperson said the government officials felt that the farmers should have waited for the administrative court case.

She added, “We are now being labelled enemies of the state but we went to the High Court because Mombeshora said we should leave immediately. But how can we just leave after we have invested in our plots and do so without compensation?”

A government lawyer told that their argument is that Mombeshora resettled the farmers without following “proper procedures” hence the minister was put under pressure to evict the farmers “immediately”. The lawyers said, as such, the farmers have no case because they occupied the property due to the minister’s “error”.

The spokesman for the farmers said they had been told to claim compensation from the original owners of the farm, something she said was ridiculous.

She added, “But how can we claim compensation from Tongaat Hulett when we did not get the offer letters from them?”

She said while the lands ministry was offering alternative land, there was no guarantee yet that that was a genuine offer and that they would be compensated and allowed to harvest their sugar cane which is now one and half meters high.

Tongaat Hullet, whose core businesses are sugar, starch and property management is listed on the

Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

The Triangle Ranch is covered under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), hence the ministry of foreign affairs involvement. Agreements under BIPPA require that government pay fair compensation in currency of the former owner’s choice for both land and improvements. Zimbabwe and South Africa signed the BIPPA deal in 2010.

South African president Jacob Zuma was in Zimbabwe recently.

A source said the government had been put under pressure to honour its obligations under the BIPPA arrangement hence the speed with which it moved to evict the farmers.

A farmer who spoke to last week said government had been put under pressure by “senior sugar business people” and that large sums of money had exchanged hands.

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At 2:22 AM , Blogger MrK said...

Cool find: After Cecil Rhodes' death, it was baron Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild who set up the Rhodes Scholarships.

From the Rothschild Archives - list of clients:

Cecil Rhodes, (1853-1902), South African businessman and politician

Rhodes visited London in July 1887 and secured the backing of Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild for De Beers

in its bid for the French Diamond Company. Support for Rhodes had been encouraged by Randolph Churchill who

had been acting as consultant to Rothschilds, assessing the prospects of gold and diamond mining in South

Africa. Lord Rothschild later disagreed with Rhodes and his policies, although he was an executor of Rhodes's will and was instrumental in creating the Rhodes Scholarships from the estate.

At 7:15 AM , Blogger MrK said...

(NEW ZIMBABWE) BIPA farm row: AAG confronts Mombeshora

THE row over the Triangle ranch previously owned by Tongaat Hulett has taken a new twist with the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) wading in telling government to stop evicting new farmers because doing so was against the indigenisation and empowerment polices.

This comes after the minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora, issued 174 indigenous farmers with an eviction order, eight months after they were offered the space to farm.

The evictees have since rushed to High Court in a matter which has sucked in the department of foreign affairs as the sugar cane farm located in the Masvingo Province is covered under the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (Bipa) signed between Harare and South Africa. The matter is currently awaiting a judgment date.

Some evictees told that they thought the South African government had applied pressure to Harare during President Jacob Zuma’s visit in November last year.

According to an eviction order sent to all the farmers by Mombeshora, the new farmers were told to leave the property "immediately" because "the purpose for withdrawal outweighs the representations" made by the applicants.

In a letter to Mombeshora, AAG CEO Davison Todson Gomo said “Foreign Direct Investment is welcome to Zimbabwe and that will always remain the case but certainly not at the expense of local people”.

Gomo said “Government’s responsibility must be to its own people” adding that “those acting on behalf of Tongaat Hulett are doing so in the interest of their own economy”.

Following is the Letter to Mombeshora

30 December 2016

Dr Douglas Mombeshora

Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement
Block 2, Makombe Complex
Corner Harare Street and Herbert Chitepo

Dear Dr D. Mombeshora


The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has received a request for intervention in a case involving the withdrawal of Offer Letters by the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe from 174 indigenous Sugar cane farmers who were offered land previously owned by Tongaat Hulett, a multinational sugar producer from South Africa.

We understand that a total of approximately 900 such farmers in Nkwasini, High Syringe, Hippo Valley and Triangle are settled in these areas as sugar cane farmers.

The current withdrawal of offer letters affects 174 farmers while the rest appeared not to be affected by the Government decision and no logical reason has been provided for this disparity and action that appears to discriminate against the 174 farmers.

Obviously in such situations, questions are bound to be raised with regards to the criteria used to with draw the offer letters especially when only 174 are affected while the rest continue to stay put in their designated areas.
How critical is the land amounting to 3000 hectares only against the amount of land available to Tongaat Hulett including the balance that is in the hands of those not affected by this decision?

At 7:18 AM , Blogger MrK said...

Continued 1...

We further understand that Tongaat Hulett has approximately 89000 hectares of land which all being equal unless proved otherwise is a massive land bank that far exceeds their current scale of operations and perhaps even their most immediate needs.

Our general understanding is that the Government through the appropriate ministry formally offered indigenous farmers land in the Hippo Valley and Triangle area in April 2016.

There is no slightest indication that this decision and action was not well thought out and it seems Government was determined to redistribute land for two possible reasons namely;

In pursuit of the land reform programme, it is important that Government demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that land is made available to the indigenous people who need it for productive and livelihoods purposes.
The Offer letters to the indigenous farmers in April 2016 fulfilled this purpose.

Government was not only living up to its 2013 election manifesto in which indigenisation and economic empowerment were at the centre of ZANU PF’s campaign but rather went on to fulfill the promises made at the time. The offer of land to farmers is central to affirmative action and the achievement of social and economic justice.

At the heart of land redistribution is not only the need to tackle the problem of under-development which is partly caused by lack of access to resources but to ensure that the skewed ownership of land is not allowed to persist at the expense of the indigenous population.

Although Government has made commendable progress particularly in making land available to those who need it, the current problem where farmers have been issued with Withdrawal Notices clearly demonstrates that multinational corporations still use their investment clout to disrupt the empowerment programme and the paramount objective of economic transformation through the equitable ownership natural of resources.

How is it possible that Government is forced to retreat from such an important move by a dominant multinational corporation that has huge monopoly power? Foreign Direct Investment is welcome to Zimbabwe and that will always remain the case but certainly not at the expense of local people.

In this specific case, withdrawal notices do not even attempt to address the question of how the affected farmers are going to be compensated for the investment on the farms which they did totally convinced that Government had considered all options at hand and had made up its mind to settle the farmers on the contested land. When Tongaat Hulett acquired the business interests on the sugar plantations, they must have known that the exclusion of the indigenous people from access to resources would never be sustainable in the long term.

It seems to us very unreasonable to consolidate the monopoly of Tongaat Hulett on the sugar market in Zimbabwe. They enjoy both backward and forward integration and are intent on maintaining their dominance through use of all sorts of strategies that include moral, legal and political blackmail.

At 7:19 AM , Blogger MrK said...

Continued 2...

For example, there is talk of creating employment which in principle is a great idea. However, how many employees are employed on permanent basis compared to a majority who have been casualised and earn extremely low wages when compared to the profits that the company make?

Is it not a shame that a decision on such a major issue (ie issuing Offer Letters in April 2016 only to retract them in December 2016) should be made without assessing its impact on the credibility of Government? The sugar crop is already over a metre high, let alone the investment made in terms of money, time etc and yet the farmers have not been told in clear terms how this investment will be recovered?

There has been an outcry from both the investing public and society in general that one of the biggest setbacks that threatens our success at economic level is the generally perceived policy inconsistency and decisions that contradict public policy. Whatever reasons are given for the change of heart, the net result is that this is not an outcome that the public wants to see.

It is scandalous that a legitimate offer of land strictly in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe should be seen as land seizure. The bottom line is that the people of Zimbabwe are entitled to access to resources and have a right to economic empowerment as is the case with citizens of other countries.

This move sends a wrong signal in terms of Government’s commitment to its flagship policy and there can never be any excuse to pursue policies that amount to disempowering the indigenous people and thus depriving them of an opportunity to play a part in determining their own economic future.

Whatever the merits and demerits of this case, we believe that there is no other way to look at this other than as an unfortunate decision and development that makes the struggle for social and economic justice rather seem unworthy of attention.

We totally agree and respect the fact that Government has a prerogative to make such decisions from time to time. Nevertheless, our view is that there is need to desist from actions and decisions that leave people experiencing a sense of abandonment by their own Government.

The indigenous people are already suffering from a state of unequal economic development therefore any policy, decision or action that prevents them access to wealth worsens their plight and has the potential to cause long term damage to the integration of the ordinary citizens into the mainstream economy of the country.

At 7:19 AM , Blogger MrK said...

Continued 3...

Our position on this and many similar situations is that we are still a long way off to meeting the conditions necessary for a successful and secure indigenisation and economic empowerment programme. We do not believe that managing the economy of a complex modern nation comes easy but whatever intricacies that are involved, Government’s responsibility must be to its own people. Those acting on behalf of Tongaat Hulett are doing so in the interest of their own economy. Right now, apart from a generalized belief that surrendering land to Tongaat Hulett will create more employment, where is the evidence that their current operations have made a huge contribution to Zimbabwe’s economy?

Indigenisation and economic empowerment is a legitimate development strategy that has not been given a chance and to some extent, the weight of emphasis has been on peripheral programmes. We also know that there are increasing voices that believe it is an impediment to investment and economic growth. These views are not grounded in evidence based facts. On the contrary, they are mere speculation pushed by those that have no faith in the capacity of Africans to manage economies.

It is fair to say while we welcome the invitation of Foreign Direct Investment into Zimbabwe, we however remain mindful of the need not to marginalise our people for the sake of attracting foreign capital. There is need for a balanced approach otherwise we will very unintentionally condemn our entrepreneurs to a permanent subservient role.

We are not too sure how much land Tongaat Hulett holds and whether this is not sufficient for their needs now and in the future. A detailed study of their land holding is necessary and urgent to ensure that they do not hold land beyond their economic needs.

We are fully aware that this case is before the Courts and that Government is obviously going to continuously evaluate the situation as it unfolds but we put our weight behind the farmers that are at the risk of losing their land needlessly.

It is however in Government’s interest to ensure that equity prevails and that indigenous people continue to enjoy the protection of Government until our country’s economy is largely in our hands.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Davison Todson Gomo

Chief Executive Officer

At 11:05 AM , Blogger MrK said...

An anti-landreform and pro-corporate agribusiness article from one professor Mpepereki. Intrigueingly, it was published in the pro-independence The Patriot.

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