Dear Family and Friends,
A huddle of men in hats and dark jackets engaged in animated conversation in the wind and dust outside a run down local government office sent eyebrows up this week. They were all clutching bits of paper and there was much gesticulating and arm waving: it all told a lot about the latest saga in Zimbabwe’s fourteenth year into land wars. The men were outside the offices of the District Administrator which, since land invasions began in 2000, is one of the places people have gone if they wanted to get a piece of seized farm land. It’s also one of the places on the convoluted bureaucratic ladder where desperate Title Deed holders of farm land have gone to try and plead their case to save their homes, businesses and livelihoods from seizure without contest or compensation. Mostly, those of us in the latter category, tried and failed.
The latest shocking development that’s sent people into huddles is the news that all A1 Offer Letters given out for plots of land on seized farms have been cancelled. This apparently involves the withdrawal of over 220,000 permits which affects an unknown number of people but must be close to a million people if not more, assuming that each plot is occupied by a single, small family unit.
Amazingly in a country so bone tired and worn out about land grabs and ownership fights, the latest development didn’t even make front page news. As long as there’s food in the supermarkets most people don’t care that it’s all imported or what skin colour the people that grew that food in another country have. They don’t even care that people on Zimbabwe’s once rich and bountiful farm land are out there in the dust squabbling over bits of paper when they should be growing food. Most people have got far more worrying things on their minds like how long their jobs are going to be safe or their companies will stay open; how they’ll afford their kids school fees or pay their rent as our economy shrinks smaller and smaller with each passing day.
Sadly what did make front page news this week were the shocking words: “Don’t sup with whites: Mugabe.” Mr Mugabe said that people who had been given seized farms were leasing them out to white Zimbabweans and accused his own officials of being involved. “Some of my ministers are being mentioned here. They are refusing to remove white farmers from their constituencies… we are told that Chiefs are also involved in land deals,” Mr Mugabe said. “What annoys us… is where our own indigenous farmers sub-lease to the very same white farmers we took our heritage from yesterday,” he added. A whole new batch of A1 Permits are going to be issued, no doubt weeding out some forgeries, some corruption and some double dipping but undoubtedly opening the way for another wave of corruption, pocket filling and renewed land invasions on the few original commercial farms still operating. And so it goes on and on and on, year after yea,r leaving a swathe of insecurity in its wake: evicted commercial farmers with Title Deeds but not compensated; A1 plot holders not legal anymore and A2 growers doing what Mr Mugabe described as “those who still believe that the land they acquired was to afford them places to visit over the weekend for braais (barbecues) and picnic parties or for prestige, then surely these will, sooner rather than later, lose the farms allocated to them.” Our poor Zimbabwe. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 4th July 2014.
Copyright Cathy Buckle.
For information on my latest book: “CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS,” or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” “African Tears,” “Beyond Tears” and “IMIRE,” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact [email protected]
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