C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000051
AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2019
TAGS: EMIN ASEC PHUM ZI RS ECON PREL
SUBJECT: MILITARY PLANS TO DISPLACE THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS
REF: A. HARARE 49
B. HARARE 24
C. 08 HARARE 1035
D. 08 HARARE 1016
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
1. (SBU) In mid-January, a local chief in the diamond rich and violence-ridden XXXXXXXXXXXX informed us of the Zimbabwean military's intention to displace as many as 25,000 villagers from their homes XXXXXXXXXXXX. The military operation is intended to establish control over the diamond fields as well as to provide village-based housing to troops. The plan was temporarily delayed due to the discovery of gold ore in the region where the villagers were to be relocated. END SUMMARY.
Military Operation to Displace Thousands
2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX the local chief in the conflict-ridden XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields of XXXXXXXXXXXX Zimbabwe, met with poloff to describe a military operation intended to displace the region's 20,000 to 25,000 residents. He said that the military had informed them that XXXXXXXXXXXX
had been named a "government reserve area" and consequently, it was authorized to displace all the local residents in and around the XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields. He estimated that the area in question encompassed several hundred square kilometers, which is well in excess of the 70 hectare site currently being hand-panned.
3. (C) Chief XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the military's plan had been to move the residents in mid-January from their villages to a site near the town of XXXXXXXXXXXX, some 60 kilometers north XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX has a farm in XXXXXXXXXXXX where the villagers would be placed. While the area is within the boundaries of the XXXXXXXXXXXX farm, the land was described by XXXXXXXXXXXX as "just rough bush." The villagers were to be provided with tents for shelter, but no other accommodations were to be made for their benefit. However, the chief said that the plan was scuttled because an unnamed Russian gold mining group with operations in the area informed the military that they had recently discovered gold at XXXXXXXXXXXX. Consequently, the military is now seeking an alternate relocation site for the villagers.
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX also explained that the operation was motivated by both a desire to control the area and a need to provide housing for the military brigades currently stationed in the Marange region. An independent NGO in the area, as well as the chief, reported that troops routinely force the
local villages to provide them with food and shelter, while making residents dig for diamonds.
5. (C) Chief XXXXXXXXXXXX is establishing a trust intended to raise funds for the legal defense and protection of displaced people in the area and sought our help in the endeavor.
6. (C) The relocation of these villagers, if it occurs, is the next preparatory step in the GOZ's plan to use the XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields to bail out the failed Zimbabwean
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economy and prop-up the Mugabe patronage system (reftels). While we are highly skeptical of the success of that scheme, what is certain is that it would result in additional suffering for XXXXXXXXXXXX residents. END COMMENT.
SELECT * FROM `cable` WHERE `id` = '188474' ORDER BY `date` ASC