|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
CFU VISITS CHIREDZI
In light of the recent increase in problems experienced by farmers in the sugar cane belt of the Lowveld, CFU Commodities Vice President Doug Taylor-Freeme, Director Hendrik Olivier and Masvingo Province Chairman Alan Stockil, visited Chiredzi Tuesday and Wednesday to offer assistance and gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground.
They, along with several commercial cane farmers, met with the Chiredzi Police to discuss the situation. Doug Taylor-Freeme had previously met with the Deputy Commissioner of the ZRP, and obtained his assurances that criminal issues would be dealt with.
The CFU delegation impressed upon the Chiredzi Police that they must carry out their responsibilities in dealing with lawlessness on the ground. It was disturbing to see their reluctance to deal with what is, essentially, a criminal issue rather than a political one. However some assurances were made that they would respond. We await the outcome.
While in Chiredzi the CFU delegation was briefed on the overall situation in the sugar growing district. They found it worrying that commercial sugar producers who are about to start cutting their cane, are being interfered with by individuals claiming the cane as their own.
We will continue to work closely with the cane farmers, many of whom are CFU members, and make sure that we assist them wherever possible.
Police say the strike failed, but it was widely observed
President Robert Mugabe has accused Western nations of sponsoring violence and terrorism in Zimbabwe.
In his first public comments since this week's two-day strike called by the opposition Movement for Democractic Change, Mr Mugabe said he had instructed the security forces to react promptly and vigorously to any unrest.
His comments came as a Zimbabwean police officer said he had received reports of a bomb attack on a ruling party office in the town of Chinhoyi. he gave no futher details.
The strike on Tuesday and Wednesday was widely observed, but led to some violent incidents and many arrests.
The MDC organised the stay-away as a protest against what it described as Mr Mugabe's oppressive rule. They say some 200 opposition supporters, including MPs and journalists, have been arrested.
Abductions and death
"The money used to organise the pretended stayaway, to pay our youths to self-destruct, to turn them into career purveyors of violence, came from the so-called democracies of the West," Mr Mugabe said at a funeral of one of his ministers.
President Mugabe says West is promoting the violence
"All these nations were united in sponsoring violence here," he added.
The opposition are already complaining of reprisals since the strike, including beatings, abductions, night raids and the death of one of their supporters by government security agents.
A statement named the deceased as Steven Tonera, an employee of MDC MP Roy Bennett.
It said he was accused of training MDC soldiers and burning a bus during the two-day strike.
South Africa protest
Meanwhile, the French News Agency, AFP has reported that a group known as Zimbabweans in exile. linked to the MDC, on Friday organised a an anti-Mugabe protest in South Africa.
The agency said some 700 protesters in Sandton, a well-heeled Johannesburg suburb, wore black arm-bands and carried coffins to symbolise the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
The demonstrators were also out to protest at South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" toward Mr Mugabe.
"Africa, wake up", "Zimbabwe is dying" and "Mugabe, go now", were some of the slogans on the placards.
Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, now has massive unemployment, long fuel and bread queues and inflation of more than 200%.