By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
21 May 2014
At a time when the ZANU PF government is struggling to woo investors, human rights activist Ben Freeth says there can be no investment without both the rule of law and the respect for private property.
Freeth said for as long as the attacks on farmers continue, attempts to bring investors into the country will remain futile. The former Chegutu farmer said the death of Malcolm Francis and his daughter Catherine, from injuries sustained during a brutal attack on his farm, was the kind of news to scare away the investors.
The father and daughter were attacked by as yet unknown people as they walked on the farm in Guruve. The two eventually died from the injuries within days apart. While the assailants are unknown, the farming community has said the incident is consistent with the ZANU PF engineered attacks on the farmers at the height of the land grab.
Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme, Freeth urged the government to walk the talk and show that that they are serious about wanting to reengage with the broader international community by protecting investors and their properties.
Earlier this week the Commercial farmers Union (CFU) said despite the government’s seemingly softening stance on private property ownership, there was an increase in lawlessness. Apart from the Guruve incident, the CFU said it had seen an increase in evictions, extortion and threats against its members. The union also lamented the upsurge in racially motivated unfair practices across the board.
Freeth said ZANU PF had taken ‘civilization backwards’ by spoiling racial relations in the country and by destroying the economy in general and its backbone, commercial agriculture, in particular.
The international award winning activist said a nation cannot be said to be civilized if it can’t protect its own people and investment. He said: ‘At the bottom of prosperity and civilization are the rule of law and the respect for life and other people’s private property and space.’