|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
4 June 2005
AND ENDANGER VITAL BREEDING HERD
Invaders are terrorising Zimbabwean farm workers on an arid Mwenezi cattle and wildlife ranch in Masvingo province, putting at risk more than 2 500 valuable beef cattle and threatening the survival of the only wildlife herds left in the area.
A group of nine hired thugs led by Mr Muzorori, who works as a right-hand man for the local member of parliament, drove onto the ranch in a National Housing and Public Construction vehicle and ordered workers from two of the cattle stations out of their homes.
After they had been rounded up and forced to flee into the bush, the thugs moved on to the safari camp where staff members were threatened and forced to leave.
The safari camp staff is now holed up at the main house with South African born farm owner Brian Cawood, who Muzorori is trying to force off his ranch.
Contact has been lost with the workers and it is impossible to ascertain if any have been injured or killed.
Cawood’s award-winning cattle herd represents a third of the last genetic breeding stock of beef cattle in the country. It comprises pedigree Brahmans, Herefords and valuable crossbred Brahfords.
The country’s commercial beef herd has been reduced from some 2 500 000 at its peak to an estimated 150 000 as a result of the chaotic and violent land invasions and the wholesale slaughter of animals.
Prior to the land invasions, the Mwenezi area earned valuable foreign currency from the game ranches that had been built up with dedication and at great expense over many years.
The district is experiencing a serious drought and Cawood, who is one of the few farmers left, is keeping water troughs full for the approximately 1 200 eland, 800 giraffe and 600 zebra which rely on him for their survival.
The ranch has no surface water and exists solely on boreholes up to 150 metres deep which pump water from the ancient Karoo sands system in the sub base. Over 40km of pipelines reticulate the water to stations throughout the ranch.
In 2001 the ranch was invaded and, within a few months it had been turned into a desert by the settlers who had no knowledge of farming and no technical skills.
Eventually they moved off and Cawood worked around the clock with his team of 75 farm workers to re-erect fences and rehabilitate the entire ranch.
Speaking from his farmhouse, which is surrounded by a security fence and located on a hilltop with no escape route, Cawood expressed deep concern for his farm workers who have been forced to abandon their homes and scatter without food or warm clothing.
“These men are peaceful and kind,” he said, “good cattle men are not aggressive. They do not deserve to be constantly threatened and terrorised by thugs.”
Although the police in charge of the province have made it clear that the ongoing violence and attacks are unacceptable, Cawood said that the local police are too terrified to respond effectively.
“Right now thugs operating as feudal warlords are running the country and it appears that senior Zanu-PF ministers have lost communication and control,” said Cawood.
After President Mugabe lost the referendum to change the constitution in February 2000, he used thugs and so-called “war veterans” to create the necessary political climate to destabilise the country and overrun the commercial farms.
“Today chaos rules,” said Cawood. “The brutal, inhumane treatment of thousands of shack dwellers and informal traders who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed demonstrates the extent of the violence and carnage.”
Cawood’s parents left South Africa for Zimbabwe in 1960 because of their opposition to apartheid. Despite their commitment and contribution to the Zimbabwe, they have been wiped out and are now virtual prisoners in their home.
In 1987 Cawood himself decided to invest in Zimbabwe and received the approval of the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank to set up a farming operation.
A qualified civil engineer, Cawood is known for the assistance he has provided to the entire farming area and his significant contribution to the cattle industry.
It does not make sense for Cawood to be forced out of the community at a time when the country needs his expertise and the government has announced efforts to bring back specialised commercial farmers to resuscitate the wrecked agricultural sector.
“We have hung on all this time hoping that sanity will prevail and that we can begin to rebuild the country and feed our starving people,” Cawood said.
For further information:
Mwenezi area, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 14 470 or 574
Mwenezi area, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 14 244
Mrs Glyn Hunter
Tel: +27 31 572 2668
Cell: +27 82 774 2284