GUY Watson-Smith and his
family on Friday fled to South Africa after their two Beatrice farms were
seized by Retired General Solomon Mujuru. Watson-Smith, 51, is a director and
shareholder of Hanagwe (Pvt) Ltd which owns Alamein and Elim farms about 70km
south of Harare.
The farmer fled the country hours before his
lawyer filed an urgent application in the High Court. Watson-Smith is the
Commercial Farmers’ Union ’s provincial chairman for Mashonaland East. “We
were worried about our safety knowing Mujuru would be named in court papers
which are in the public domain,” he said from Pretoria, where he is staying
with relatives. “We will stay in South Africa for as long as this takes.”
Mujuru, 54, is a former commander of the army. This is the first case brought
before the courts by a commercial farmer against a member of President
Mugabe’s inner circle as a result of seizure of land and
Mujuru once sued the now-defunct Horizon magazine over a story he
claimed was defamatory. On discovering that Andrew Moyse, then the
magazine’s editor, was white, he reportedly told the court: “If I had known
white people had defamed me, I would have shot them.”
claimed in the court papers Mujuru evicted him from his farm in September and
seized assets worth about R160 million (about Z$1 920 million). He alleged
Mujuru in November forced him to grow at his own expense 140 hectares of
tobacco on the farms, which he said were interdependent. The tobacco
production amounts to 500 000kg , which translates to about US$1,5 million
(about Z$82,5 million).
The assets seized, including tractors, vehicles
and irrigation equipment, are worth $120 million. Part of Watson-Smith’s
affidavit reads: “When I asked Mujuru if I would be allowed to remove
moveable assets, Mujuru said he had paid for them and they were his as much
as ‘the shirt on your back’ and that I would be paid for the crop in the
The farmer is also suing Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, and the war
veterans’ commander for Beatrice district known only as Zhou. Zhou also
sits on the district’s land committee.
Watson-Smith said Zhou threatened
to kill him. He says he was unlawfully evicted from the farms, on which he
also grows paprika, groundnuts, maize, pastures and katambora seed for
export. In addition, he breeds 430 head of cattle and keeps a 490-herd of
Watson-Smith employed 120 permanent and about 40
seasonal workers from adjacent communal lands. He is seeking an order for the
immediate return and recovery of all movable property on the farm. He said
Zhou had, on behalf of Made, Chombo and Mujuru, detained the property on his
Elim Farm was gazetted for compulsory acquisition on 2 June 2000
but he objected, in a letter to the Acquiring Authority. Watson-Smith
again challenged an acquisition order he received on 8 December 2000 and
the hearing is pending before the Supreme Court. Alamein Farm was gazetted
for compulsory acquisition on 25 August 2000 and although an acquisition
order was served on him on 5 December 2001, the 90-day notice period has not
yet expired and neither has he been served with an eviction order from
a competent court.
Watson-Smith said the district administrator
randomly pegged his farms in September without warning. His neighbour and his
elderly mother on Silver Oaks Farm were barricaded in their home for five
days by war veterans after he removed some of the pegs. Watson-Smith said he
offered up to 417 hectares of his farms, leaving him with 862 hectares. He
said he promised to assist resettled farmers with tillage, seed, fertiliser,
transport and dipping facilities, but the provincial administrator rejected
the offer. He suspects the farm was supposed to be kept in pristine condition
for Mujuru. On 18 September, Zhou, accompanied by two war veterans known only
as Joe and Chris, ordered Watson-Smith and his wife, Vicky, 44, to leave the
property immediately. Mujuru, travelling in a Pajero vehicle registration
number 742-223N, visited the farm with Zhou six days later demanding farm
records. Watson-Smith was ordered to move his father and mother, both in
their 80s and ailing, off the farm on 8 December.
They were only
allowed to carry their household goods. But before the family had left, the
farm was looted at Zhou’s instigation, Watson-Smith said.
Mugabe party linked to deaths By Alex Duval
Smith 27 December 2001 Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change, accused President Robert Mugabe's supporters yesterday of
killing three of its supporters.
Trymore Midzi, an MDC youth leader in
Bindura, about 60km (38 miles) north of the capital, Harare, died after being
beaten and slashed through the head with a machete.
Elliot Pfebve, the
MDC spokesman, said Mr Midzi's assailants were 20 supporters of the ruling
Zanu-PF. Mr Pfebve said the victim was taken to hospital after the assault on
Friday, then transferred to Harare and given 70 stitches to the head, before
dying there on Monday.
According to the MDC – whose leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, is challenging President Mugabe in an election expected in March
– Mr Midzi was killed by a group of trained Zanu-PF militia. "They attacked
him in Bindura, and were in uniform," Mr Pfebve said.
followed the killing of two other MDC members, Titus Nheya and Milton
Chambati, last week. Pro-democracy activists believe that at least 110 people
have died in politically motivated violence since last year's parliamentary
• The Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, seen as the only
African leader able to exert influence on President Mugabe, cancelled his
trip to Zimbabwe this week after the murder of Nigeria's Justice Minister,
Chief Bola Ige.
Pretoria - A
general election shrouded in violence seems to be unavoidable in Zimbabwe
after three opposition leaders were murdered this past week, allegedly by
Zanu-PF supporters of President Robert Mugabe.
The Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), the country's official opposition party, alleges
there were at least 83 political killings in Zimbabwe this year. The police
claim the figure to be 25.
The latest murder was that of Trymore Midzi, a
representative of the MDC in Bindura, 60 km north of Harare. He died on
Monday after he was allegedly viciously attacked by alleged Zanu-PF
supporters over the weekend.
The Daily News reports that Titus Nheya and
Milton Chambati, both of the MDC, died in similar circumstances in the
Mashonaland West province last week.
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
told Reuters "the murders are proof of Zanu-PF's murderous strategy" in the
preamble to the election in March. Tsvangirai is seen as Mugabe's main threat
in the upcoming elections.
He called on other governments in Southern
Africa and the international community to intervene and prevent the election
from turning into a bloodbath.
Tsvangirai accused Zanu-PF of still
using war veterans to do the dirty work in its election campaign.
PF meanwhile accused the MDC of being Britain's hand puppet and said it, with
Britain's help, was inciting violence before the election. Zanu-PF said the
MDC sends hired youths to the regions to avenge the killings.
accused Tsvangirai on numerous occasions of being the favourite of the
international community to push him (Mugabe) from his seat in retribution for
the acquisition of white farmers' land.