Saturday, April 05, 2008
AN increasing number of white former commercial farmers are reportedly threatening resettled black farmers throughout the country with eviction from their farms or face the wrath of an anticipated "incoming MDC government". In Chiredzi, white former sugarcane farmers and conservancy operators have reportedly returned in their droves, threatening to repossess their plots in anticipation of an MDC victory. This has raised fears and apprehension among a host of newly-resettled farmers who benefited under the Zanu-PF Government’s land reform programme.
Some of the sugarcane farmers who spoke to The Herald yesterday expressed concern over incidents of white former farmers in Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and Triangle who were threatening to return to plots they previously owned.
The newly-resettled farmers said the white former farmers were allegedly camped at Malilangwe Conservancy on the outskirts of Chiredzi town where they have been staying since the run-up to harmonised elections.
Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers’ Union secretary-general Cde Admore Hwarare last night warned the white former farmers against any attempts to repossess land in Chiredzi, saying that such moves would be fiercely resisted.
"Let no one fool himself or herself that they can repossess land in Chiredzi because we are going to resist that. The land was allocated to us by the Government and we have got security forces who are prepared to defend the right to our land.
"Let it be known that there is nothing like that going to happen in the Lowveld as we are prepared to defend ourselves," said Cde Hwarare.
White former commercial farmers in the Lowveld have been resisting the land reform programme where they had maintained a stranglehold in the multi-billion-dollar sugar industry.
In Mashonaland East, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction’s proposed Agriculture Minister and newly-elected House of Assembly representative for Marondera Central, Mr Ian Kay, reportedly told workers at his former Chipesa Farm that he would soon be repossessing the farm that was acquired by the State at the height of the Land Reform Programme.
While Mr Kay could not be reached for comment yesterday, workers at the farm said that he had told them that he would be demanding to be paid rent for the past seven years since his eviction from the property.
Yesterday morning, a rifle-wielding Mr Thomas Beattie is said to have gone to Cde Bright Matonga’s farm in Chegutu with a gang of five or six men and told workers that he would soon be "reclaiming his land".
Mr Beattie only left when farm workers organised themselves and made it clear that they would not tolerate his presence on the property.
Cde Matonga, a ruling Zanu-PF MP and Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity in the last Cabinet, confirmed the incident.
Reports of white former commercial farmers threatening new owners with eviction started emerging early this week following reports that the MDC was likely to win the harmonised elections.
Such cases have been reported at Paarl, Impofu and Bougainvillea farms in Mashonaland West as well as in Norton where the former farmers were seen taking pictures at various farms.
Speaking at a Press briefing yesterday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairman Cde Jabulani Sibanda said: "We have received reports from villages and farms that there are white former farmers moving around the country threatening to invade the farms.
"This is a second invasion after the first one in 1890 (but) then the whites had some guns and we only had spears.
"If these elections result in an invasion of the country instead of a fight for parliamentary seats, then these people must know that there are other freedoms outside democracy," he said.
Cde Sibanda said Zimbabweans had a right to their land, minerals, natural resources and if need be their freedom to choose their leaders.
"Under these conditions, we do order those involved in sanctions, supporting and funding the invasion of our land to know that we have the capacity, strength and, far and foremost, willingness and determination to defend our revolution and sovereignty," he said.
The war veterans’ leader said although Zimbabwe had had free, fair and credible elections, the process was done under the pressure of sanctions to reverse the gains of independence.
"The West has organised and imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and we want to tell people to ignore activities of Europe in supporting the opposition and employing sanctions to weaken the party, Government and revolution," he said.
"Our country was taken away in 1890, we fought a protracted struggle to recover it and the process is still on. We gained political independence in 1980, got our land after 2000, but we have not yet reclaimed our minerals and natural resources.
"The fight for freedom is still on until everything is recovered for our people."
Cde Sibanda said the war veterans are still solidly behind President Mugabe.
"This is a battle between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries, Zimbabwean people represented by President Mugabe and foreign interests through the MDC and we will continue supporting him," he said. However, the MDC-Tsvangirai party said it had no intentions of reversing the gains of the liberation struggle by handing back farms to white former commercial farmers.
Reacting to the reports that some white ex-farmers had threatened to repossess farms in the event of a Morgan Tsvangirai victory, opposition spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa said they would not undermine the agrarian reform.
"Land is a national heritage and asset which belongs to all Zimbabweans. No people-centred government would seek to undermine the desire and need for land reform. As the MDC, we have underscored that there is no going back to the pre-2000 era," Mr Chamisa said.