Lowveld farm seizure cases go to court Monday

A group of commercial farmers whose properties in Zimbabwe were confiscated are due to appear in Chiredzi Magistrates' Court on Monday, facing the criminal charge of "illegally occupying State Land without a permit”.

The land in question refers to their houses on the farms, which they continued to occupy after losing the rest of their land and agricultural equipment, as top officials in the Mugabe regime grabbed prime land under the banner of the so-called land redistribution programme.

Peter Henning’s farm was confiscated in 2003 and is one of the accused in court on Monday. He told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that his property was protected by a bilateral trade protection agreement, but this made no difference. Henning is South African and the others facing similar charges are Mauritian and Swiss. Zimbabwean Robert Style is also in court on Monday for refusing to leave his farm.

“We all have bilateral agreements.” Henning said but he explained that the Zimbabwe government refuses to honour these agreements that are meant to to provide protection.

Also due to stand trial on 16th January are Mauritian nationals Benoit Lagesse and Benoit Fayd'herbe and Swiss national Theresa Warth.

The chaotic seizure of commercial farms by the Mugabe regime has caused much suffering in the farming communities and destroyed the country’s food production created mass hunger and a dependency on donor hand outs.

“It has been traumatic. I had a large staff and all my senior staff died from stress. There was nothing I could do. Not even hospitalization. They all died from stress because they could not find work in their trade anywhere and it killed them,” Henning said.

Charles Taffs, President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), said there has been an escalation of farm seizures and intimidation following Robert Mugabe’s speech at the ZANU-PF congress in December. Mugabe said the remaining white-owned farms should be urgently taken.

Regarding enforcement of protection agreements, Taffs said nothing has been done by the coalition government.

CFU figures show that Zimbabwe faces the lowest yield of maize in 50 years this year. “About 247,000 hectares were planted which should give us 350,000 tonnes of maize, versus consumption needs of 2 million tones. We are in serious trouble,” Taffs explained.

The farming expert said Malawi has stopped exporting maize to neighboring countries due to a drop in their own production, leaving Zimbabwe with no hope of importing from there.

Regarding the affected farm workers, Taffs said roughly 2 million people were housed on commercial farms – about 350,000 families. The government’s figures claim that 166,000 families were resettled. This is less than half the total evicted from the farms but the CFU also dispute these figures and say resettlement has been absolutely minimal.

The regional human rights tribunal in Namibia ruled that Zimbabwe’s land redistribution was racially discriminatory, constitutionally illegal and dispossessed owners had to be compensated for their loss.

But the Zimbabwean government ignored the ruling and SADC leaders suspended the tribunal’s operations, rather than deal with the Mugabe regime. – SW Radio Africa News

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *