By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
07 July, 2014
A former Chegutu farmer whose property was burned down during a violent invasion in the early days of the land grab has revealed how the late former cabinet minister Nathan Shamuyarira, declared a hero by ZANU PF, destroyed his family and the lives of many farm workers
Shamuyarira, a ZANU PF founding member and senior cabinet minister for 15 years, died in Harare last month. He had been in and out of hospital for some time and was visited by President Robert Mugabe while at the West End hospital, where he was on life-support.
Shamuyarira was given hero status by ZANU PF and buried at Heroes Acre, but former farmer Ben Freeth experienced a very different man, when the veteran nationalist showed up at his Mt Carmel Farm with an offer letter.
Freeth said he pleaded with Shamuyarira to go through legal channels, but the ZANU PF politburo member had other ideas, which involved violence, intimidation, guns, fires and all-night jambanjas.
“He was a man who brought great terror to us, who brought great fear to us and through his history a man who has been involved with bringing terror to people,” Freeth told SW Radio Africa.
“He sent in thugs to the farm and burned down our hay shed first of all. Then our safari lodge was burned down and he stole all our crops, the maize crop, the mango crop and the whole citrus crop. He beat up quite a few of our workers and put some in high security jails,” Freeth recalled.
He added that eventually his home was burnt down as well as his father in law’s. The family was also abducted and tortured, and sadly his father in law later died as a result of the trauma.
Freeth also referred to Shamuyarira’s days as Information Minister, when he orchestrated a news blackout of the murders and torture that took place in Matabeleland during the so-called Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s.
He blocked the media from carrying stories that included women who had their stomachs ripped open and their babies torn out by Mugabe’s 5th Brigade.
The former farmer said what is very disturbing is the fear that has gripped Zimbabweans, where we are now too afraid to simply speak the truth and expose what is going on now.
Freeth has written about this, calling it “Zimbabwe’s sickness” and he says “The day that we have the courage to not count the cost of doing what is right and speaking truth to terror will be the day Zimbabweans will break out from their prison of fear into freedom.”
Freeth believes that this day will come, one day.