Farm production grinds to a halt as farm invasions continue

zimbabwe_remaining_farms.jpgProduction at the handful of functioning farms remaining in Zimbabwe has ground to a halt, with ongoing farm invasions and threats of evictions forcing farmers to abandon their crops.

A fresh wave of farm invasions have seen more than 80 farms seized
since last month and has left more than 100 farmers facing possible
prosecution. A High Court judge last week nullified a SADC Tribunal
ruling protecting white owned farms, leaving the country's remaining
white farmers with little legal defensives against invaders. Most
recently the owners of the Mount Carmel Farm in Chegutu once again came
under threat, when on Monday a group of thugs arrived on the farm,
accompanied by members of the CIO, a lands officer and police from

Mount Carmel is owned by Mike and Angela Campbell who were the first
applicants in the farm test case that was taken before the SADC
Tribunal last year. In November the farmers involved in the case were
given full protection to continue farming without disturbance, in a
ruling that has proved a short-lived victory with the nullification of
it's legality in Zimbabwe's High Court last week.

The invaders of Mount Carmel were led by Peter Chamada who led a
previous raid earlier this year, claiming to be the nephew of ZANU PF
spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira. But on Monday Chamada claimed he was in
fact Shamuyarira 's son. According to Campbell's son-in-law, Ben
Freeth, their attorney in Harare spoke on the phone to both the lands
officer and the police sergeant and informed them that Chamada had no
authority to take up residence on the farm, until such time as there
was an eviction order. However Freeth said a CIO operative told the
Campbells that the President was the law, and what the President said,
they must do.

Freeth said the Campbells then argued that the President was not the
law but were cautioned they were being disrespectful to the
President'. Mugabe had insisted in his 85th birthday speech last month
that the remaining white farmers in the country must vacate their land,
saying they are not welcome.

Throughout the Chegutu district similar invasions are still taking
place, leaving farms completely unproductive. On Downs farm, the house
has been completely looted and the Grain Marketing Board manager has
taken over. As a result dairy cows are now dying – in a country which
is being forced to import milk from South Africa at more than double
the price paid by South African consumers.

Meanwhile on Reydon farm, the owner obtained a High Court order to stop
the local lands officer from taking over his house. But the lands
officer, accompanied by the police, responded by smashing the locks and
throwing out the owner's belongings, from the outbuilding he has since
taken over. On Northleigh farm the lands officer defied another High
Court order and broke into the house, with police moving all the
owner's furniture into two rooms.

And on Stockdale Citrus Estate, owned by the embattled Etheredge
family, Senator Edna Madzongwe, President of the Senate, has continued
to halt work on the farm and the 350 workers are to unable to reap
their 6 000 ton citrus crop.

John Worsley-Worswick from Justice for Agriculture said on Tuesday that
it is ludicrous that this is happening when we have a starving
nation. He argued that Zimbabwe's farming output had already dropped
significantly since 2000, when Mugabe's land grab was in full swing. He
said the farmers are even more bitter as these new fast track'
invasions are happening against the backdrop of a unity government
meant to bring about change.

Zimbabweans are battling a crippling countrywide food shortage that has
left more than seventy percent of the population in critical need of
international food aid. The UN's World Food Programme has in turn been
forced to cut its aid rations to cater for the overwhelming number of
starving people in Zimbabwe – a country that was once regarded as the
breadbasket of Africa.

SWRadio Africa

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