Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Eddie Cross: The farm situation today

Set out below is a letter from a lowveld farmer on an irrigation farm. It describes what has been going on there for the past few months. The ceizure of farm equipment was done by Police and Army details useing force. It was declared illegal and the High Court ordered the equipment returned. We are talking here of many million of US dollars worth of equipment. When they eventually colected the equipment - it had been vandalised to the point where it was no longer operational. Jambanja is a term used to describe the use of a mob to terrorise the occupants of a home on a targetted farm. It is often accompanied by physical violence, noise and fire damage to property.

The campaign is carried out on an ethnic basis - white farmesr are the targets. It is completely illegal and destructive. Farms taken over in this way quickly become derilect and unproductive.

Eddie Cross
18th October 2006

Pardon my poor responses to your e-mails. My mind is a bit cluttered for the moment by the reappearance of what I thought was behind us.

There's been a turn for the worse again. We were told to fetch our illegally seized equipment from the various police stations, starting on 20th September. This, after explicit high court orders to do so in Dec 2005. We were able to access about 60% of what they took from us. It is all very badly vandalized and abused. None of the tractors were mobile. All the many trailers and towable implements no longer had tyres, etc. Those unfortunates who'd had their expensive centre pivots uplifted by the police team last year had to pick through the jumble of pipes, wheels, motor, gearboxes computerized control panels, etc where they had been simply dumped last year. Never used, some even had the original paper labels on.

What a wicked exercise last year's seizures by government agents was.

We finally completed the recovery of what was available, on 26th September. The Ministry of lands immediately slapped a fresh order on all the premises where the equipment had been temporarily stored! It was in the form of a notice of "Intention to Acquire" our equipment, some kind of perverted pretence of following "procedure". The long and short of it is that our equipment has been re-embargoed. In its present state it cannot ever be used, and the state's agents know this. The act was out of spite and revenge for losing the court actions all along the line! A twisted attempt to "save face" perhaps.

There is a new spate of farm evictions.You have no doubt read about it in the media. All the eviction notices are illegal. There is no provision in law to issue any. In the haste last year to change the constitution and nationalise the land, the ZG omitted to include an eviction clause.

Parliament and the senate have now corrected their oversight with yet another amendment. This awaits signature by the president.

Greig still lives at Farm 39, which is "next door". On Sunday there was a jambanja mob at the gate demanding to come in. A police inspector from Masvingo was demanding the keys from the yard staff in order to enter and seize a homestead. Several employees escaped into the sugar cane, one coming to report to me. Greig was unaware of the drama until I phoned him in his abode, and by the time he went to investigate the inspector had called off his efforts and departed! Nonetheless Greig went looking for him, and they had a frank conversation of 45 mins. Low volume, but the fellow is totally brainwashed, mouthing revenge for the whites chasing his ancestors into the hills in the nineteenth century etc, and his resolvde to recover the land which was stolen.

That is where it should have ended. Greig has however received several messages to say a proper jambanja will ensue, starting tomorrow. One doesn't know what to believe, other than they are as predictable as a puff adder.

The whole problem stems from the corrupt ministry of lands, whose local officials have refined dishonesty to an art. They've been issuing forged "eviction notices" to many farmers during the last few weeks. On initial inspection these looked to be genuine, and caused quite a stir. In spite of being false the bits of paper have of course had the desired intimidatory effect!

Meanwhile I am a bit concerned about Greig. I cannot proscribe to him. There have been several warnings from friendly sources that he should be cautious. The dilemma is to decide on the level of danger, and whether the suggestion wasn't planted in the mouths of well-meaning messengers.

Whichever way you look at it, whites have again become very vulnerable on the farms. There seems to be little recourse at present to counter the determination of Didymus Mutasa to rid commercial farms of all whites by the end of the year - or by the "start of the rainy season" as he has vowed.

Keep well, my friend.


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