Mugabe Supporters Seize Farms
|What is affected||
|Type of violation||
|Date||10 February 2009|
|Region||AFA [ Africa anglophone ]|
Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)
Article found at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=a66pCbGHB4wQ&refer=africa Mugabe
Supporters Seize 77 Farms, Threaten Others, Groups Say
24 Feb 2009
By Brian Latham Feb. 24 (Bloomberg)
At least 77 white-owned commercial farms have been invaded by supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe over the past two weeks and other landowners are being threatened, agriculture industry organizations said. The “eviction campaign” threatens the livelihoods of about 100 farmers along with about $140 million worth of crops, Doug Taylor-Freeme, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, said in an interview today from Harare, the capital.
Justice for Agriculture, a lobby group seeking compensation for those dispossessed of their land, estimated at least 140 farmers and their families were under threat. “New invasions are taking place on farms across the country,” Taylor-Freeme said. Farmers are being “threatened with eviction, while others are already being forced off their land.” Zimbabwe’s land invasions began in 2000 after Mugabe accused white farmers of backing Morgan Tsvangirai’s newly formed opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The takeovers sparked a collapse in agricultural production that nine years later has left 6.9 million Zimbabweans, about half of the population, needing food aid to survive. Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on Feb. 11 as part of a power-sharing accord with Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party. Mugabe has vowed that the confiscated land won’t be returned to white farmers. ‘High-Profile Invader’ “Police aren’t acting on a High Court order to evict a high-profile invader from my home and farm,” Mark Rose, who farms cattle, tobacco and corn in the northern Horse Shoe Block, said in an interview from Harare. “Nothing has changed for my 200 workers or me since the unity government was formed.”
A southern African regional court ruled in November that 78 white Zimbabwean farmers who challenged their eviction should keep their farms and that the land-seizure policy violates a treaty signed by members of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community. Justice for Agriculture has found temporary accommodation for families that have been evicted from their farms, John Worsley Worswick, chairman of the group, said from Harare late yesterday. “We are working on a plan to move thousands of threatened farm workers to the capital at the moment,” he said.
Under Mugabe’s “land distribution scheme,” formerly white- owned commercial farms have been distributed to senior military and police officials, civil servants, judges and Zanu-PF loyalists. Farms have also been sub-divided into small plots and allocated to black small-scale farmers. Wayne Bvudzijena, a spokesman for Zimbabwe’s police force, didn’t answer his mobile phone when called today for comment. The MDC “doesn’t condone these disruptions to farming,” spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in an interview today. “They’re meant to enrich a few Zanu-PF individuals through unjust means.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham via Johannesburg at email@example.com