via NewsDay Editorial:Farm invaders should be brought to book May 22, 2014
THE invasion by hundreds of villagers, including war veterans of Tongaat Hullets sugarcane estates in Chiredzi between the weekend and Tuesday is a disgrace for the country, which is battling to be accepted by the international community.
This, especially, following the violent land reform of 2000 which left hundreds of commercial farmers maimed or killed for refusing to vacate their properties.
However, it is heartening that the police moved fast to arrest the unruly crowds, and it is hoped that the judiciary system will complement the efforts by incarcerating those fomenting disorder around the country at a time Zimbabwe is looking forward to rebuilding its economy from the ashes of the land reform programme that began in 2000.
Regrettably, this came against the backdrop of the brutal assault of a Guruve commercial farmer Malcom Francis and his daughter Catherine last week leading to their deaths from the wounds sustained during the savage attacks.
In the Guruve incident the world has been told that the farmer was attacked by unknown people and their motive is still not known.
Why these people cannot be found is anybody’s guess. But if government is serious about containing this violent behaviour, it is important that the assailants are brought to book otherwise that will “soil” the good image the country is trying to win back.
In that regard, perpetrators of the Chiredzi invasion must face the music to send a clear message to like-minded Zimbabweans that even if one has applied for land they must follow procedures.
Actually, respect for private property is important, as it gives confidence to foreign investors looking to do business. Investors are always concerned about the safety of their investment hence if their businesses are not protected they will pull out — itself a death knell for the economy.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is frantically looking for investment to grow the economy yet some among the rank and file of the ruling Zanu PF party believe that foreign investors are nothing but enemies to be harassed and booted out of their legitimate investments. This is against the spirit Chinamasa is trying to instill.
Ironically, the short-sighted war veterans and villagers have failed to know that Tongaat Hullets is a South African company, which has full protection from both the country and international statutes.
It is unfortunate because the company employs perhaps most of the villagers from the surrounding communities yet they claim the company encroached into their land.
Isn’t it an act of defiance to President Robert Mugabe who only last week ordered party “big wigs” out of the world class Save Valley Conservancy? It is actions such as these that taint Zimbabwe as a country.
We urge the government to ensure those perpetrators are brought to book regardless of their station in society. Because, if this does not happen then Zimbabwe may again witness a wave of violent invasions as evidenced by the Guruve incident.
The majority is yearning for the revival of national industries and Tongaat Hullet is one such that has kept its shop open regardless of the unfavourable conditions.