By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
31 July 2014
Dispossessed Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth has described as “sad and baseless” attempts by the ZANU PF regime to cast him as a racist in one of its newspapers.
An article carried in the ZANU PF mouthpiece The Patriot last week referred to Freeth as “a pathological racist and “the son-in-law of the late apartheid war criminal, Mike Campbell”.
The attack came after Freeth raised concern over the way the country’s court rulings on land disputes involving white farmers, reflected ZANU PF’s anti-white sentiment.
Freeth’s query followed the Constitutional Court’s recent ruling endorsing the eviction, without compensation, of farmer and double amputee William Stander from his Benjani Ranch in Mwenezi.
The farm was Stander’s only home and source of livelihood but the ConCourt deemed this to be unimportant and rebuked the white farmer for appealing to the courts for help.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Thursday, Freeth said it is clear that the ruling party was bent on stirring up racial hatred between black and white Zimbabweans as a strategy for control.
“I work well and interact with black Zimbabweans from all backgrounds and as I speak, I am in the rural areas. So to try to portray me as someone who is racist is wrong but this is the government’s way of causing enmity between the different races.
“It is disgusting that the government has taken away a wheel-chair bound man’s home just because of the colour of his skin. That is the simple truth,” Freeth said.
Freeth predicted that Zimbabwe will continue to rely on food aid as long as the Mugabe government keeps grabbing land from genuine farmers and giving it to people who have no interest or understanding about farming.
Stander’s farm has been given to Mwenezi District Administrator Stanley Chamisa, who has assaulted the disabled farmer in the past over the same property.
“Chamisa already has a full-time job as a DA and farming is also a full-time occupation, and there is no way he will utilise the farm efficiently because he will be in his office. And that is also true of all the other ZANU PF top officials,” said Freeth.
The ZANU PF land grab policy started in 1999, principally as a diversionary tactic. The economy had started crumbling due to the party’s corruption, bad governance and a series of policy errors including military intervention in the DRC, and unbudgeted financial packages for war vets.
Faced with a restive population and no solutions to deteriorating economic and social standards, ZANU PF encouraged war vets to invade white-owned commercial farms. Since then the country has been in economic crisis, with no food, no jobs and no industries.