Farmers overlooked in Govt power struggle: CFU

Fears are growing that Zanu (PF) has launched an orchestrated campaign to force all remaining white farmers off their land, and with so much energy focused on government power struggles, the plight of farmers is being overlooked.

Two farmers have been murdered in violent robberies and another is in a coma in attacks which the Commercial Farmers Union said was linked to political violence ahead of a possible election next year.

Charles Taffs, president of the CFU, said farmers were besieged on all sides. As well as the 152 farmers fighting evictions under Amendment 17 through the courts, families also face violent evictions from their homes.

“Outside the court system, we have people coming onto the farms and evicting families with just 24 hours notice. They are not able to take their livestock, equipment or crops with them. Then there are the more serious cases – a third phase, where farmers are being beaten up. We have had two murders and one farmer from Guruve is in a coma.”

Colin Zietsman, a prominent Centenary farmer, was bludgeoned to death and his wife left fighting for her life in hospital after a savage attack by two individuals in September.

Another farmer was killed in Banket just weeks later and Kenneth Bartholomew, from Chegutu, was violently evicted from his commercial farm – which is now in the hands of Felix Pambukani – by the police in direct contravention of a court order.

He, along with his family and his 200 strong workforce are now homeless and without jobs. His farm has been under siege by Zanu (PF)-linked militia since 2009 and he has been fighting for his livelihood through the court.

The CFU have also had reports of a farmer stabbed in Headlands and others attacked on farms just outside Bulawayo.

Taffs said the CFU was in constant conversation with the government, but that the power struggle between the three parties was preventing anyone from taking firm action.

The CFU president warned this would have horrific consequences for the country which could soon be driven to the brink of starvation if farmers were not allowed to continue their work in peace.

“We will face chronic food shortages next year. We have entered an agriculture season, which in our view is the least prepared for in over 50 years. Growers of all sizes, and from all backgrounds have no security; there is little funding available for inputs and their ability to plan has been removed due to the constant threat of eviction.”

The CFU has issued an urgent plea to the government to deal with the situation before it is too late.

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