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Farmer sues invaders
DAILY NEWS: 6/13/01 8:31:41 AM (GMT +2)
the MDC parliamentary candidate for Chegutu whose farm was occupied by Zanu PF
supporters and war veterans has engaged lawyers to sue the invaders for unlawful
occupation of his property.
The invaders have given
Matibe seven days to pack his belongings and leave the farm or risk unspecified
action by them on him.
Matibe contested the Chegutu seat and lost to Webster Shamu of Zanu PF.
However, he has since filed an electoral petition challenging Shamu's victory.
The hearing of the petition was scheduled to begin in the High Court on Monday but was postponed following the invasion of the farm.
Matibe said the main reason for the invasion of his farm was to distract his attention from the pending legal challenge of Shamu's victory.
"The occupation of my farm has been necessitated by the election petition," said Matibe. "It is quite clear that Shamu is afraid of losing the Chegutu seat because of a number of irregularities which now form the basis of the pending petition."
The petition was postponed to later this month.
Matibe, who employs nearly 100 workers on the farm, said: "I am very concerned about the plight of my workers. They have now been rendered destitute and I am extremely worried about their welfare."
Matibe has instructed his lawyer, Thomas Masendeke of Honey and Blanckenberg to sue the government for the unlawful occupation of the farm, which he bought in 1999.
"In essence what the government is saying is that I am not entitled to own land in Zimbabwe. But I am a black person and the government's land reform programme is meant to empower indigenous people," said Matibe.
Dear family and friends,
This week's letter is not going to be a documentary of what's been happening politically in Zimbabwe this past 7-days. It is going to be about farms & farmers & about the death, this week, of the man who has been one of the prime movers in ensuring that thousands & thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans will soon be looking starvation in the face.
When Chenjerai Hunzvi died I sent out a letter saying that I did not rejoice at the man's death & I had many angry letters in response to my sentiments. I still do not rejoice at his death. I feel incredible sadness that any human being could allow themselves to be used the way Hunzvi has been used this past 16-months. Used & paid to rape, torture, beat, burn & kill. Used & paid to cause suffering & misery. Used & paid to ensure crops were not planted. Used & paid for a political cause which will never feed the thousands of people now jobless & homeless. Used & paid to lead 13 million people to starvation.
Perhaps it is as well Hunzvi died before 13 million people got angry enough to ask him why he had done this? I do not know how Chenjerai Hunzvi will rest in peace, I do not know how he will face his God. As a white person, & an ex farmer, I am not alone in my conviction of approaching starvation.
BBC's Veronique Edwards asked a high profile black, non farming Zimbabwean this week about the threat of starvation. When he told her about wheat not being planted, a grossly insufficient maize crop and no foreign currency to import food, Ms Edwards suggested the man was exaggerating the situation. Tendai Biti angrily retorted that he lived in Zimbabwe, he saw the situation on the ground with his own eyes & rightly said that he found Ms Edwards accusation as extremely insulting. It is equally insulting to hear people calling black Zimbabweans Uncle Tom if they dare tell the truth. It is insulting in the extreme to black Zimbabweans & merely perpetuates a racist, colonial mentality that we left behind two decades ago.
I wish I could tell you what has been happening on Zimbabwean farms this week since the death of war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi. I wish I could tell you of the terror being experienced by farmers this week when huge groups of men have gathered at the farm gates, shouting, whistling & drumming. I wish I could tell you of the terror a woman went through when she was abducted this week. I wish I could tell you of the horror of having the farms gates smashed down by youngsters calling themselves war veterans this week. I wish I could tell you of the nausea & horror of seeing fields being burnt down, cattle being slaughtered, people being barricaded into their own homes, people being told to get out of their own homes or they would be killed. I wish I could tell you but I cannot. I cannot tell you because if I do, the farmers say, tomorrow 'they' will come back with reinforcements.
Less than a year ago I was on a farm, I know what it is like to have 'them' shouting at the gate. I know what it feels like to see 300 people chanting & waving their fists on my land. I know what it feels like to see a bloated, slaughtered, decapitated cow lying, in the field covered in bloodied, frenzied flies. I know what it feels like to be threatened, sworn at, scared, watched. I know what it feels like to have a tree cut & strewn across my roadway so that I cannot get out. I know what it feels like when the police do not come because 'it is political', do not come because they ‘have no transport'. I know what it feels like to be told I have 2-hours to get out of my own house. I know what it feels like. For almost a year I lived it. For almost a year I told the world about it, week after agonising week, terrified of repercussions, I told about it.
Around the world, & worse, in Zimbabwe, everyone thinks that because it is no longer all over the newspapers, the terror on the farms has stopped - it has not. Day after agonising day it goes on & yet everyone is silent. This week another 3 Zimbabwean farmers in one small area, threw the towel in, packed in their dairy operations & are leaving. It has not stopped. It is still not about land. It is still being done by men who are being used & paid. It is still purely about politics.
When I wrote the story of my farm I was terrified of repercussions, not just scared but terrified, paranoid. It took a wonderful black man, some may call him an Uncle Tom, to make me see sense. He showed me, by his own actions, that fear is all consuming. He told me that if I allowed fear to continue ruling my life it would mean that 'they' had won, that I had allowed them to rule my life. Nothing in Zimbabwe is now as it seems.
Mid week police moved in & evicted squatters from Gadzanga farm on Central Estate in Mvuma. Why did they do this? Central Estate is owned by Nicholas Hoogstaten, a well known, self professed financial backer of Zimbabwe's ruling party.
Yesterday I went to Richie's school for a small show put on by all the
Depicting fashion across the world, I sat enthralled, often laughing & sometimes with tears in my eyes at these future Zimbabwean leaders. Black, white & brown children, holding hands, singing, dancing, saying (and often forgetting) their lines. This is the true face of Zimbabwe & I am so proud to be able to say that I am not leaving my country.
I am not giving in, I am not giving up & I am not shutting up either. The horror on the farms is continuing. Stories such as those recounted in 'African Tears' are being replayed every single day & while they continue I will keep telling of it.
Until next week,