Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Vice President Taff’s speech


Welcome to our Annual General Conference. We are entering into a phase in Zimbabwe where I feel an acceleration to recovery is becoming apparent. The business communities of which ours is one are becoming increasingly weary of the continued political delays and are as a result beginning to drive recovery through their own initiative.

We at the CFU must engage and be part of this. We must create structures that can allow for any future inflows to come through the Union. We must with our business partners form strategic partnerships so that our relevance is manifested and in the process we are able to participate fully in the turn around that will come. We have over the last number of years worked within an agricultural policy vacuum which has left our members in very real financial trouble regardless of their current farming or non farming status.

In the days and months ahead we must be resolute in our approach, we must be strong in our resolve and we must drive a holistic strategy to cater for all our members’ requirements.

Uppermost in our member’s requirements is that of compensation. Let me be clear, compensation is not being driven for the sole benefit of those who have lost their homes and businesses. Compensation is being driven for all. For to achieve compensation will be to re-instate the value of land tenure allowing for all to move on with the security needed to plan for the future.

This is an issue of national importance, as it is the key that will unlock the collateral value of the country mobilizing the funds that we so desperately require. Without compensation being achieved our country will continue to be a net importer, it will continue to be a dumping ground for inferior products and trade, it will continue to be donor dependent and specifically for us, our sector will continue to decline. Until legal transfer has been achieved our farmers will never be competitive within the region as funding will always be risk loaded driving production costs upwards negatively impacting on viability. It saddens me that whilst the politicians play Zimbabweans are being isolated in terms of country business participation due mainly to our inability to source competitive funding allowing other countries nationals to come in and exploit those very opportunities. As an example we have become the largest African supermarket for South African products. This needs to change and it needs to change now. Zimbabweans have been prejudiced for too long.

The compensation drive itself is well advanced and is beginning to be taken seriously by all. Our Way Forward Proposal has been canvassed widely both at home and abroad, creating a strong platform for dialogue which is now really becoming positive. This initiative would never have been possible without the outstanding data collated by the Valcon Consortium. To Graham, his team and John Laurie in particular we thank you for this massive achievement and I am confident that this will be the lever to lever the eventual compensation settlement. To W. Hart and the ARAC team, your work on the Consequential Losses builds further accuracy into that eventual value and enhances our negotiating position.

We have simultaneously being trying to establish a new business direction for the Union and this has culminated in the launching of the Preferential Trading Partners Initiative.

This initiative has been put together by a team who are very focused and generally underpaid and I thank them for their efforts. This initiative basically seeks to form partnerships with all sectors of the business cycle from international banks, local banks, insurers, traders, suppliers, farmer’s end users and anyone in between. From the outset this has a number of objectives:-

To recreate the full cycle of business to drive down the initial costs of borrowing by both sourcing funding as well as supplying additional comfort to international lenders.

To re-create a structured business environment so as to reinstate competitive supply of quality inputs isolating the so called “brief case businessmen” who have been such a scourge in recent years.

To place structure back into Zimbabwe business so that we can again become attractive to real investment so giving our members real opportunity and choice.

To create a passive income for the union to ensure its financial security enabling it to have the capacity to drive outstanding issues to their finality.

In conjunction with the PTP initiative we need to create the structures necessary to establish the joint commodity association and regional offices with our ZFU partners. We must create a sound base on which our agricultural sector can re-build in going forward always bearing in mind that the development of this new structure will have far reaching effects on the future of Zimbabwe agriculture and as a result we must get it right. In summary the Union must have four main drives:-

To put the issue of compensation and property rights to bed once and for all

To create a business strategy that twill secure the finances of the Union creating opportunity for our members as well as enhancing the Union’s relevance in the country’s recovery.

To create the new farming structure needed, revitalize the representative farming and business bodies such as the ALB, NEC, Riverboards etc. which have all been severely weakened. To begin the process of dealing with multinationals, donors, government in reenergizing and re-establishing institutions such as the CSC, the GMB and Agricultural Research to name a few.

The Union must take stock of its current assets throughout the country. I feel that in the recent past we have dropped the ball in this regard and this must change and the assets be put to the best advantage of our members. To this end I have requested a complete asset register to be presented by the end of August. I would appeal to any person or persons that may be aware of CFU assets anywhere within the country to come forward with such information so that action may be taken.


It is for the above reasons that I will be requesting the nomination of two Vice Presidents. One to drive the productive and business side of the Union, and one to drive the structural re-development of Agriculture, leaving the President to drive other issues including that of compensation.

Ladies and Gentlemen we need now more than ever, strong motivated leadership to carry this through and I ask every one of you to grab this mantle and make a difference and let us start moulding our future.

I also invite and urge all farming groups and representatives, no matter where you are from or who you are to join us and let us all participate in what lies ahead.

To our elderly members who have lost everything and find themselves dependent on others I say this “What has happened to you is a national disgrace and it borders on criminal. We will do everything within our power to find a quick solution; the ARAC office under Ben Gilpen will continue to explore avenues of pension development, partial interim settlements and equity release.

To all of us waiting for our compensation, rest assured that we will continue to do all we can to finalise a just settlement, as well as trying to develop alternative working options for our members. To our farmers still farming through our business sector and PTP partners under the guidance of Richard Taylor we will pursue every avenue open to us to try and create both stability and viability to ensure your success.

To those few who continue to hide behind non deplumes and publish vitriolic and damaging articles on the airways let me say this, cease forthwith, for to continue is to undermine all our chances of success your own included. Come forward and attack the argument and not the personality in an open and constructive manner. We can no longer dwell on the past at the expense of our future.

Finally I would just like to say a few words about my friend and colleague Deon Theron. I have never in my life met a couple with such honesty, integrity and general common good as Deon and Martha. They themselves have lost everything, faced constant persecution and prosecution and yet have never wavered at the task at hand, that being to help and serve others. To those who have been critical of this man really have no understanding of the facts. Deon it has been a privilege and an honour and I thank you for the opportunities given to me under your leadership. May you and Martha move on and get to enjoy the life that you both deserve.

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to stress that all those chosen to represent you must do so with strength, vision, focus and transparency. This is not the time for weakness and indecision.

I thank you.



ARAC Report at Congress

ARAC REPORT TO CONGRESS – 26th July 2011 The ARAC team would like to extend particular thanks to outgoing President Deon Theron, VP Charles Taffs

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