SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Police led farm invasion leaves hundreds homeless

By Alex Bell
29 August 2011

Another farm invasion, this time in the Chegutu area, has left hundreds of people homeless, as the campaign to seize the remaining commercial land in Zimbabwe continues.

Farmer Ken Bartholomew was forced off his property over the weekend while awaiting an urgent court appeal to stop his Wakefield

Displaced farm workers

farm from being taken over. Bartholomew is supposed to have court sanctioned protection on his land, after winning a previous High Court order allowing him to remain there.

But a magistrate earlier this month moved against this High Court order, and Bartholomew and his farm workers were all forced off the land over the weekend.

The eviction was carried out by police officers and a group of about 50 armed men, who destroyed Bartholomew’s property while they were evicting him. Bartholomew and his family are now trying to find another home, but the fate of his 200 strong workforce and their families, who were also evicted, remains unclear.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) President Charles Taffs told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the campaign against the commercial farming community “is starting to accelerate again.” He said it was “particularly worrying that the police themselves led this eviction, in direct contravention of a court order.”

“In terms of the rule of law, this just shows how far gone we are,” Taffs said.

Taffs also explained that the loss to the agricultural sector in terms of labour, has been huge since the start of the land grab campaign in 2000.

“There are at least two million people who have been displaced since then. So we have faced an almost complete labour drain, because most people have either fled to other countries or worse,” Taffs said.

He added: “It just doesn’t make any political or economic sense to continue this. We have a situation where there is a huge food deficit, where people are losing jobs. It makes no sense to me.”

Taffs said there has been virtually no reaction from government, including the MDC, despite what he said was a “general understanding” of what needs to be done to stop the land attacks and the ongoing destruction of the agricultural sector.

“We’ve spoken to government and our position is they need to put a moratorium on land takeovers right now. We’ve told them that ‘if you continue this there will be no investment in the country’, but no one is saying anything, not the Prime Minister, not the Finance Ministry, no one,” Taffs said.

Bartholomew is at least the fourth commercial farmer to be evicted this month alone, with farm invasions being reported in Banket, Karoi and Nyazura. In Nyazura, more than 2,000 workers and their families have been left destitute since March because of a wave of invasions in the area. Despite this there has been no move to protect them, their rights, or to stop the ongoing unlawful seizure of land.

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