Police detain white commercial farmer

by Nokuthula Sibanda

HARARE - Zimbabwean police on Tuesday detained a white commercial farmer -
who is embroiled in a farm ownership wrangle with a high ranking government
official - allegedly for disorderly conduct.

Peter Etheredge, who owns Stockdale Farm in the south western farming town

of Chegutu that Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament Edna Madzongwe wants to

take over, was detained by police in the morning.

Two of his employees were shot and injured allegedly by police guarding the

farm on behalf of Madzongwe. They were taken to the Avenues Clinic in the


A lawyer who was in Chegutu confirmed that Etheredge was detained at Chegutu

police station. "He has been detained for disorderly conduct," said the

lawyer who did not want her name to be published.

"What is surprising is that that the police are saying it’s disorderly

conduct but no one is elaborating as to what actually happened. Two of his

employees have been taken to Harare after they had been shot in the

morning," the lawyer added.

Another farmer at the scene also confirmed the detention of Etheredge. "He

has been detained by the police since morning, and we have not been told

what is the problem or what the police intend to charge him with," said the


"We are completely in the dark, but two of his workers have been shot, one

through the knee and another somewhere in the leg."

No comment could be obtained from the police last night.

Violence has intensified on farms across Zimbabwe in recent weeks, with farm

invaders attacking workers and owners, effectively paralysing operations on


Commercial farmers’ organisations say invaders have since February raided at

least 100 of the about 300 remaining white-owned commercial farms, a

development that has intensified doubts over whether the unity government

will withstand attempts by ZANU PF hardliners to sabotage it.

The International Monetary Fund and Western countries have – on top of other

conditions – made it clear that hey would not consider giving aid to the

Harare government while farm invasion continue.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday appointed a team of senior

government ministers to probe continuing violence on the country’s few

remaining white-owned commercial farms.

The team that visited selected farms was led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur

Mutambara and included joint-Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles

Mutsekwa, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Lands Minister Hebert Murerwa

and Minister of State in Tsvangirai’s office Gorden Moyo.

Zimbabwe, also grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, has since 2000

when land reforms began, relied on food imports and handouts from

international food agencies mainly due to failure by resettled black

peasants to maintain production on former white farms.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far

reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of people have lost jobs

while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is

operating at around 10 percent of capacity.


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