Zimbabwe: Destitution and fear among remaining White farmers

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A handful of Zimbabwe’s remaining white farmers say security in the commercial farms was deteriorating at an alarming rate following the Monday, October 25 brutal murder of former Zimbabwe Tobacco Association head and top tobacco grower Jobus Joubert.

Joubert was killed by unknown assailants at his farm in Selous, about 95 kilometres south west of Harare. and got away with $10,000 in cash.

Less than 400 white farmers still own land in the country, down from
nearly 5,000 a decade ago when Mugabe’s government started seizing the
land in a bid to redress imbalances created by a century of colonialism.

“The shooting at point blank range of another white farmer in the Selous district of Zimbabwe again highlights the deteriorating situation currently being faced in the rural farming areas,” the Commercial Farmers’ Union said Wednesday.

“The alleged beneficiaries of the farms and their hired thugs are taking the law into their own hands, breaking into homesteads using bolt cutters and locking the owners out, leaving them with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.”

The CFU said an elderly couple in Nyazura was forced by senior army officers last week to leave their farm but are struggling to gain access to the property in order to remove their farm equipment, 15 tonnes of maize and other goods.

Police have refused to intervene in cases where white farmers have come under siege from land invaders.

Prior to the land invasions, Joubert farmed 500 hetares of land but this year, given the insecurity of the situation in the commercial farming sector, he planted just 50 hetares of tobacco, down from around 70 hectares last year.

He also grew a small crop of maize and sorghum and had a herd of beef cattle.

Dozens of white farmers have been killed on commercial farmers in the last decade as Mugabe pressed ahead with the controversial land seizures, which critics say have resulted in a plunge in commercial agriculture.

In August 2008, Joubert, his wife and some of their farm workers were evicted from their farm by a senior Zanu PF figure, and ended up camping on the roadside in a lay-by with their few meager possessions.

Later that month the Jouberts’ application to the High Court was successful and the illegal orders granted to the beneficiary by a Magistrate’s court were annulled, enabling the couple to return to their farm.

“This is a symptom of the flagrant disregard for the rule of law in these areas over the last ten years and the CFU urgently requests that the authorities take immediate action,” the white-dominated union said.

“The refusal of the police to act against the intimidation, threats, violence, evictions and occupations signals the start of a renewed onslaught against rural communities in the build up to next year’s elections.”

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