Dumisani Muleya, Zimnews
Johannesburg - A new wave of land seizures has hit Zimbabwe as the government enters the final stage of a campaign to evict the last remaining white commercial farmers from their properties after nationalising the country`s land. The latest wave has hit eastern Zimbabwe, especially Chipinge district, where farmers are now being forced out. Gangs of Zanu PF militia backed by police overran at least two farms this week, beating and threatening farmers and managers before chasing them off the land. "All title deeds of the farmers have been cancelled, with the British government having sole responsibility to compensate the evicted farmers," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said on state radio yesterday. Chinamasa said a constitutional amendment that President Robert Mugabe signed on August 30, stripping land owners of their right to appeal against state expropriation, had "finally settled the land question in Zimbabwe". Zimbabwe has accused former colonial power Britain of creating economic and political trouble. Mugabe also has accused white Zimbabweans of orchestrating political opposition.
Farmers interviewed this week said they feared a "mop-up campaign" was under way to flush them out. They said they feared the "final push" could be motivated by "ethnic cleansing" designs. Gideon Mostert and his wife were on Tuesday night forced off their land in New Castle farm in Chipinge after an invasion by a ruling Zanu PF gang and state security officials. Mostert said it was a harrowing experience to be forced off his land under threats of violence. "I was pushed out on Tuesday night by local Zanu PF agents and a Zimbabwean diplomat based in London, Dr Win Mlambo," he said. "I`m now living in a caravan at the backyard of a friend`s house. The group phoned me at 8pm on Tuesday and told me to vacate the farm." Mostert said the invaders arrived shortly after 10pm, and forced him to leave immediately. "They came in and threatened to attack us if we didn`t leave. We had no choice .... The group, which had about eight security agents and 12 activists, kept on saying: `Hurry up, hurry up, time is not on your side`."
Canadian coffee-farm owner David Wilding-Davies and his South African manager, Allan Warner, were allowed by doctors to go home yesterday after receiving treatment for injuries they suffered when they were beaten the day before by a gang trying forcing them off Liliesvlei farm. The attack was the first since Didymus Mutasa, head of Mugabe`s Central Intelligence Organisation, described remaining white farmers as "filth" and said he would "rid the country of remaining whites". Chipinge Farmers Association chairman Irvine Stone said Wilding-Davies was raided during the night at his Brackenridge farm by an aggressive gang. He said Warner was "severely beaten", and that gun shots were fired over his head during the attack. The Commercial Farmers Union said disturbances were still rampant on the farms. Farmers were still being pushed out or their operations being disrupted. Mugabe ordered the seizure of 4000 mostly white-owned commercial farms starting in February 2000. Until 2000, whites farmed 17% of the country and earned most of its export revenue. Farming was the backbone of an economy now in free fall. Chinamasa said that there was now an appreciation in the SA government that Zimbabwe`s land grabs were effective in addressing land inequalities.
Original article at: http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID=12808