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from the Independent (UK)

Tobacco farms close as Zimbabwe's land fight continues

By Basildon Peta in Harare
21 September 2001
At least 570 large-scale tobacco farms in Zimbabwe have shut down because of
violence on white commercial farms, two weeks after the government agreed to
end the land invasions and observe the rule of law brokered at a
Commonwealth meeting in Nigeria.

Twenty of the 570 farms were invaded and occupied in the last few days, said
Jane Williams, a spokeswoman for the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). The
stoppages on the 570 farms would result in the loss of 75 million
kilogrammes of tobacco worth £154m, she added.

Production at about 400 other farms has also been slowed by the interference
of ruling party militants.

The CFU deputy director, Jerry Grant, said yesterday: "There is no change
regarding the situation on the farms, in actual fact, there is increased
violence." Mr Grant accused the police of discriminating against commercial
farmers in favour of the squatters who had invaded the mainly white-owned
farms with the blessing of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF.
He said the police had often left farmers to be harassed by the invaders.

Analysts said suspicions that the government had only agreed to the Abuja
land deal to ease pressure on President Mugabe when he attends the
Commonwealth heads of state and government summit in Australia early next
month were being reinforced each day, with new reports of violence on the

Witnesses also dismissed allegations that a white farmer from Wezda, John
Bibby, and his black workers had killed two farm occupiers, Fanuel Madzvimbo
and Alexio Nyamadzawo, as widely reported in the state media. The witnesses
said the two men had died after fallingduring a stampede, from one of three
lorries carrying war veterans hired to attack farm workers at Mr Bibby's
Bita Farm. The Zimbabwe National Army has now been deployed on Bita Estate
to curb massive looting.

Analysts said that President Mugabe's failure to make a categorical
statement denouncing farm violence – and his government's failure to issue a
detailed statement about how it planned to deal with illegal squatters –
were important pointers that "Abuja had always been doomed from day one".

"Abuja got it all wrong in the first place by identifying land as being at
the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe. In fact, land is at the core of
Zanu-PF's re-election strategy," said Lovemore Madhuku, a law professor at
the University of Zimbabwe.

John Robertson, an economist, said the government had done nothing to keep
its commitments at Abuja.

Instead, he said, the government was fabricating claims that farmers were
stage-managing the land invasions. "What even makes me more cynical about
the government is that they continue to designate [for seizure] more farms
even now, after the Abuja deal," said Mr Robertson.

Earlier this week, Zanu-PF's ruling committee had unanimously ratified the
Nigerian-brokered deal bringing hope of an end to months of conflict and
attacks on white farmers.

In return for Zimbabwe agreeing to respect the rule of law, the British
Government has agreed to pay £36m to compensate the white farmers whose land
would be redistributed to poor black families.
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Farm Invasions and Security Report
Thursday 13th September 2001

Sincere apologies to subscribers for the one-week delay in filing this report.

This report does not purport to cover all the incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas. Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting all that happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisals.

Police and military forced illegal occupiers to vacate four farms (Lamotte,  Riebeck, Cambria and Upcott) in the Masvingo area.  One of these farms belongs to the Cold Storage Company, one to a church organisation and the other two to private individuals. 
The situation in Wedza remains untenable.  Over 4347 people have been made homeless in the district due to illegal occupier pressure and 8 farmers remain off their farms. The district now has 25 partial or total work stoppages.
A farm worker in Nyabira was seriously injured by an unknown explosive device that had been recently placed on the farm.
Six farm workers on Beersheba Farm in Norton were assaulted by Grey Scout soldiers.
In Raffingora, illegal occupiers told the owners of Kelston Park, Cornrise and Mutendamambo farms that farm workers must vacate their farm villages and move into the farm sheds.
In Tengwe, the owner of Kapenap was evicted along with 60 families.
Three Karoi farmers were harassed by a group of over 30 occupiers and threatened that they would have their genitals cut off if they did not comply with instructions.
A new invasion occurred on Protea Farm in Karoi when an army lorry forced its way through the security fence to gain access to the complex. A Security guard and farm foreman were assaulted.
An official from the Provincial Land Committee has confirmed that resettlement is to take place in Gona Re Zhou national park and that the boundaries will be realigned to accommodate this. DDF Tractors are now ploughing within the park.
In Tengwe, CNN news footage was confiscated by police and the reporter was harassed by police and military.

There were no reports received from Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland Region.

Mashonaland West North
Nyabira - On Monday morning a farm worker in Nyabira was seriously injured by an unknown explosive device that had been recently placed on the farm.
Raffingora - A work stoppage has occurred on Kelston Park Farm and Great Gain Farm and illegal occupiers have pegged both farms. The owner of Kelston was allowed to grade the present crop, but recently illegal occupiers have demanded that farm workers vacate their villages and reside in the barns and sheds to complete grading operations. 9 farms in Raffingora Central were visited with A2 resettlement enquiry's. Plots to be between 40 - 100 ha each. There has been an increase of illegal occupiers moving onto farms in the area, with work stoppages occurring on 3 of these farms. In the Hunyani area, several farms have been completely burnt out, a cow slaughtered, poaching and hunting with dogs is ongoing.  Illegal occupiers told the owners of Kelston Park, Cornrise and Mutendamambo farms that farm workers must vacate their farm villages and move into the farm sheds. Farm workers on Great Gain have been advised to peg land on the farm or vacate. Each illegal occupier family has been promised between $35 000 and $40 000 to start up projects. A farm worker was beaten by an illegal occupier.
Trelawney / Darwendale - The illegal occupiers Chairman on Mtotwe Farm demanded that the owner explain why tobacco planting had commenced on the farm without his permission. The situation remains unresolved even after the owner tried to negotiate, with illegal occupiers agreeing that tobacco must be planted but refusing to allow the owner to do so on the pegged plots which have been allocated on the whole farm. Militant illegal occupiers with weapons in their possession, have a plot outside the owner's homestead and refuse to allow the owner to plant there. The owner has continued with planting. Polite young inexperienced government evaluators valued the farm and insisted on valuing the homestead. 7 illegal occupiers arrived on the farm in a Nissan Sunny to continue building huts in the owner's protea lands. A total of 8 huts have now been erected in the proteas although none are occupied at present, and 14 other huts around the farm, some of which are occupied. Farm workers are ignoring instructions from Illegal occupiers not to use the Gaga River for water, washing or fishing. Illegal occupiers prevented the owner of Elveden Farm from continuing farm operations. The owner of Dulwich Estate remains unable to plant, but has been allowed to continue grading. Illegal occupiers have built huts with 13 in progress and claim to have ploughed 5 hectares of land, which is not the case, the owner ploughed the land. The owner has sold 100 head of cattle although tobacco planting has continued. A work stoppage continues on Cleeve Farm with the owner constantly receiving threats from illegal occupiers. A work stoppage on Squatodzi Farm continues, although tobacco planting has been allowed. 17 illegal occupiers huts have been erected. Army officials questioned the owner why planting had commenced and said they would return. Veld fires started by illegal occupiers have destroyed 100 hectares of land. Planting was stopped on Weltevrede and recommenced.
Tengwe - The owner of Kapenap was evicted along with 60 families. The owner has been allowed to water seedbeds, but grading and planting have been stopped, with 50 ha tobacco & 20 ha maize at risk. The irrigated section of Jamboc Farm has been closed down. 7 families were evicted from their homes and 20 hectares of maize is at risk. The owner of Dendenyanir has 30 ha of tobacco, 30 ha of maize and about 300 head of cattle at risk. A Section 5 has not been issued to any of the above farms, neither have the farms been pegged. A complete work stoppage occurred on Alfa Parandaler. The owner of Disisitd received a Section 5 on Friday 7th September, agritex officials pegged on Monday 10th & 11th September. 40 families were evicted on Tuesday 11th September and the owner is under threat to vacate the farm. 30 ha tobacco, 30 ha maize and 150 cattle are at risk. Illegal occupiers have burnt the whole farm. The owner of La Motti has received a Section 5, the farm has been pegged and settled, with a risk to the owner of 15 ha tobacco and 150 head of cattle. The owner of Tayesaa has received a Section 5, the farm pegged and settled and the owner has a risk of 35 ha of tobacco, 35 ha maize, 200 cattle and a 100 sheep. Chobenig Farm was pegged in August and the owner received a Section 5 on Friday 7th September. Illegal occupiers are attempting to evict 40 families, move 150 cattle and have stopped 15 ha coffee, 20 ha tobacco and 20 ha maize production. Illegal occupiers have prevented the owner of Cordanc from using tobacco barns, sheds and the homestead and demanded that about 150 head of cattle be moved off the farm. A complete work stoppage occurred on Neverni and about 60 families were evicted. The whole farm has been burnt out and the owner has a risk of 40 ha of tobacco and 40 ha of maize. The owner of Kamusham has received a Section 5 and the farm pegged, and has a risk of 15 ha of tobacco, 30 ha of maize & 100 head of cattle. Garonat Farm has received a Section 5, been pegged and settled. Watering of seedbeds has been prevented and the owner is unable to prepare land for 30 ha of tobacco and 30 ha for maize. Dana J has received a Section 5 and illegal occupiers have been settled. About 250 head of cattle have been prevented from grazing. Le Don Ramonal received a Section 5 and has been contested, although the farm has been pegged and resettled. Grading of tobacco has been permitted. The owner has a risk of 30 ha of tobacco, 30 ha of maize and 150 head of cattle. 90 Farm B has not received a Section 5, but has been resettled. Illegal occupiers have stopped work. The owner has a risk of 30 ha of tobacco, 30 ha of maize and 200 head of cattle. Illegal occupiers have ploughed, pegged and burnt out the whole of Shargezaan and Rogdent Farms. A total work stoppage has occurred on Wiwat with 25 ha tobacco, 25 ha maize and 80 head of cattle at risk. The whole farm has been burnt out, received a Section 5, been pegged and resettled. A complete work stoppage occurred on Vandap with a risk of 20 ha of tobacco, 20 of ha maize, and 90 head cattle. The whole farm has been burnt out, received a Section 5 and been fast-tracked. A total work stoppage occurred on Manas (with 25 ha tobacco, 25 ha maize and 70 head of cattle at risk. The whole farm has been burnt out, a Section 5 received, pegged & resettled. A complete work stoppage on Driftwood H with 30 ha tobacco and 75 head cattle at risk. The whole farm has been burnt out, received a Section 5, been pegged and resettled. A complete work stoppage occurred on Sukuras with 25 ha of tobacco and 60 head of cattle at risk. The whole farm has been burnt out, no Section 5 has been received and illegal occupiers have settled themselves. A total work stoppage occurred on Rugarep with 40 ha of tobacco, 40 ha of maize and 150 head of cattle at risk. A Section 5 has been received and the farm pegged.
Mutorashanga - Work stoppages have occurred on 2 farms in the area.
Chinhoyi - A total work stoppage occurred on Braeside Farm. Illegal occupiers have restricted the use of cattle and sheep paddocks on Oswa and Fupi Farms. A work stoppage has occurred on Chifundi Farm. Illegal occupiers have prevented the owner of KauKua Farm from planting paprika and are building huts in the paprika lands. Land preparation is being prevented on Arkadia, Gwandamasvika Farms and Newlands. Contractors employed to build a dryer on Baguta Ext were prevented by illegal occupiers from continuing. The owner of Portelet Farm was stopped by illegal occupiers from planting tobacco. Ridging has been stopped on Wychwood. Illegal occupiers have taken over a potato crop on Nyati Farm and stopped ridging. Land preparation has been stopped on The Range, Portelet Estate and Chisaki. Illegal occupiers forcibly extorted 400 bags of maize from the owner of Laureton Farm. Government evaluators have been to Gyppslander Farm, Shumba of Uplands, Angwa Farm, Kennelwoth Farm, Golden Kopjie Farm and Baguta Farm. 
Karoi - When the owner of Welkom Farm visited the farm, which is being leased he found stray cattle and called a neighbour to see if they belonged to him. When the neighbour arrived with farmer and tenant they were surrounded by 6 illegal occupiers who demanded to know why they were driving around land that did not belong to them. About another 30 illegal occupiers gathered around and proceeded to give the farmers, death threats, threatened them with knives, including 10 year olds yielding sjamboks. Illegal occupiers relieved 1 of the farmers of his community radio and proceeded to try inform the district that all was well on Welkom farm. The farmers were told to lie down, which they refused, political slogans were screamed at them and they were threatened again that they would have their genitals cut off if they did not lie down. Illegal occupiers set up a road block preventing members of the community access to assist. The farmers called their bluff and illegal occupiers backed off. Police were notified and arrived 2 hours later and resolved the situation. A new invasion occurred on Protea Farm and the foreman was beaten badly. An army lorry forced its way through the security fence to gain access to the complex. There has been an increase of poaching on Chiuwa Farm and police response was there is nothing they could do. Illegal occupiers have moved 72 of cattle onto the farm. The veterinary department were notified and Makuti police said they would send respond, which the owner is still awaiting. A Tsetse unit is camped outside the owner's homestead, hanging meat that has been poached. They informed the owner that tsetse flies are on the increase. Illegal occupiers have prepared seed beds near the dam for 5 ha. 40 Sheep have died in the last 3 weeks and the owner has taken seed for testing suspecting poisoning. Illegal occupiers are preventing work in the lands, but grading and watering of seedbeds continue. Illegal occupiers herded cattle into seedbed areas on La Rochelle Farm. Soldiers are cutting down trees and selling the firewood. Farm workers are still living in barns since 11 August. All incidents have been reported to police who refuse to enter RRB numbers and referred the owner to the DA who has been unavailable for some time. A CNN reporter was treated with hostility by Supt. Rugotwe and his camera film confiscated, and was further subjected to harassment by police and army at a farm in Tengwe whilst trying to film work stoppages in progress. 70% of Yawanda Farmhas been burnt out by illegal occupiers, with between 2 and 3 poaching incidents a day. Reports have been made with no response from police. Illegal occupiers and farm workers from Nyamhanda Farm, set up a road block on the Chenestsa Road, allegedly looking for a young assistant who they claim had beaten a farm worker at Nyamahanda. An attempted work stoppage occurred on Momba Farm and illegal occupiers gave farm workers death threats. About 100 illegal occupiers arrived on Montesuma Farm and built huts, and the senior leader demanded that the manager move out of his house so that he could move in. He allowed the farmer the use of some of the grazing areas although the handling facilities have been pegged. There is widespread veld fires in the area. 64 farms in the district have been occurred work stoppages, but most have been allowed to grade and water seed beds.

Mashonaland West South  
General - The DA and lands committee continue to imply to illegal occupiers wanting free land, that once the property is listed in the newspaper, has been pegged by Agritex or DDF and valued by young inexperienced evaluators, the property has then been officially and legally acquired. This gross deceit continues to create untold problems for farm owners, their workers and illegal occupiers. 
Norton - 6 farm workers on Beersheba Farm were assaulted by the Grey Scout army unit, that has been regularly assaulting and intimidating farm workers and owners over the last 2 weeks with a unit from Chikurubi Police. Planting of the early Tobacco crop continues to be disallowed on several farms in the area.
Selous - 2 Eland cows were poached from Carskey Farm. Farm workers on Exwick received death threats from war veteran Makoni if they did not vacate the farm, despite the farm being de-listed on the 13th July 2001, in the Government gazette. The wing commander Mazamban, continues to steal firewood off the farm, using an air force vehicle to do so. 
Chegutu - A new invasion occurred on Borden Farm.
Suri Suri - Illegal occupiers on Eureka Farm lifted half the roof off the main homestead, which was vacant after the tenants moved out some months ago due to threats by war veteran Chando, who has remained on the farm since. The farm manager of San Fernando Farm has been told to vacate the farm again. The lands committee prevented the owner of Pax Farm from farming. The owner has previously offered 4 farms to government for land reform over the years and is now only left with Pax Farm. Senior air force officers have moved into the main homestead on Petra Farm.
Chakari - The last white owned farm in the district has been pegged illegally by the DA's committee, making it impossible for any farmer in the Chakari area to plant unless new orders are received from the DA or police.
Kadoma - The owner of Alabama Farm managed to reap 300 pockets of potatoes off 4 hectares planted and illegal occupiers have stolen the rest, with police knowledge that they were doing so. About $3.5 million worth of potatoes have been stolen. Illegal occupiers have threatened to do the same to other farms in the area growing food crops. DA pegging officials have pegged the whole of Tannock Farm (not listed) after having waited for the owner to plough it all. 
Battlefields - After the owner of Abendrhue ploughed lands, illegal occupiers have prevented the owner from planting a paprika crop, as they wish to plant their own crop in the lands. Police refuse to respond. Poaching continues to be rife throughout the Battlefields area with no action from police.

Mashonaland East  
General - Mashonaland East has a total of 159 partial or complete work stoppages with the figure changing daily.
Beatrice - The owner of Logan Lee was eventually allowed out of the house. The following morning there was a labour dispute. The owner of Hoekies has been instructed to vacate the farm within a week and all cattle are to be removed off the farm or illegal occupiers threatened to set fire to the whole farm.
Bromley / Ruwa / Enterprise - Illegal occupiers prevented 72 000 day old chicks from being moved onto Mukwene Farm.
Featherstone - A further 100 illegal occupiers have been moved to Sable Flats over the last few days. Theft of fencing and piping was reported to Featherstone police who reacted. Illegal occupiers told the owner of Gelukwerwacht that they had been instructed by Charles Gumbo of CIO that the owner must move in excess of 600 cows and calves off the farm. In discussion, illegal occupiers said a deal could be made whereby the owner had to pay $450 000 for use of the grazing for an unspecified period. 
Harare South - Illegal occupiers called a meeting with farm workers on Walmer asked if they wanted land or not, and accused farm workers of being MDC if they refused land. Most of Chesham has been burnt by illegal occupiers. Government evaluators visited Walmer. Another fire was started on Kinfauns and illegal occupiers at the homestead gate, demanded a list of the homestead contents.
Marondera - Illegal occupiers have taken occupation of 2 managers homesteads on
Marirangwe Dairy Farm.
Marondera North - About 300 ha of Chiprarawe farm was maliciously burnt by illegal occupiers.
Macheke / Virginia - Farm workers on Richmond farm prevented the owner from leaving his homestead yard until he had paid them retrenchment packages. The owner of Mignon farm was told to vacate the farm by the end of the day and whatever was left on the farm belonged to the government and therefore, the illegal occupiers. The owner had no farm workers to load 450 bales of tobacco. IIlegal occupiers on Riverlea chased farm workers into the bush and demanded for the roofing off the buildings. Police refused to react as the matter was "political". Illegal occupiers on Howgate demanded use of a farm tractor to take them to a meeting in Macheke. The owner of Fault farm was not allowed to commence with reaping of Granadillas.
Wedza - 8 farmers remain off their farms. The district now has about 25 partial or total work stoppages. Over 4347 people have been made homeless in the district and lost income due to illegal occupier pressure. The situation remains untenable and problems are ongoing.

Chipinge - Mrs Mlambo and illegal occupiers visited The Nest and caused trouble with farm foreman. 3 illegal occupiers are currently guarding the farm gate on Glenda Low Farm waiting for the DA to take over the farm.
Chimanimani - 2 tractors arrived on Charleswood and commenced ploughing with little regard for soil conservation. An army presence remains peacefully on the farm.
Rusape - The DA is visiting farms in the area and giving the farm owner an ultimatum that either the farmer is to provide them with a portion of their farm or the DA will take it themselves.

Masvingo East & Central - A delegation of police and army officials arrived on Cold Storage Farm and told illegal occupiers to vacate the property and burnt down some of the huts erected by illegal occupiers. Poster attached to a building on Lamotte Farm indicated plots for sale at $250.00 each. One of the requirements was that those wishing to purchase a plot should bring their own food. However, army vehicles drove around the farm and informed all illegal occupiers to vacate the farm. Officials informed the owner that work on the farm could recommence, and farm workers who were forced to vacate their homes by illegal occupiers, could return. Illegal occupiers have been told to vacate Riebeck Farm, Cambria Farm and Upcott Farm. The owner of Shallockpark Farm was prevented by illegal occupiers from collecting sand on his farm. Illegal occupiers are requesting the owner supply free water to them, and are currently erecting brick houses. DDF tractors have ploughed the farm. The poaching incident that was previously reported Bon Domi, Bon Air and Wepener Farms has deepened with about 3 impala’s seen on the back of a vehicle. These impala were allegedly shot by a National Parks Official with the authority of the Provincial Warden. Other Impala have been seen on the farm to have been maimed by poaching incidents. Impala skins have been found on the farm and an illegal occupier has been apprehended whilst checking on snares. A Brahman pedigree cow died in a snare on Chidza Farm. Government evaluators continue to visit properties throughout the Province. At Buffalo Range 2 evaluators took half an hour to do an evaluation, which previously had taken qualified people 7 days to do. 
Mwenezi - The centre pivot and pipelines on Minaarshoff Ranch have been damaged and the owner has had to dismantle the centre pivot due to the sabotage. An entire span which covers 35 ha, of pivot between the fields and homestead, where it was stored, has been stolen. CID are investigating. Illegal occupiers cut through 12 stands of wire to gain access onto Kleinbegin Ranch with their loaded donkey carts. When illegal occupiers were asked why the fence had to be cut, they said that there were no boundaries and could go wherever they pleased. Cattle are still reported to be moving back and forth through the Foot and Mouth area. Biet Bridge Provincial Veterinary Office are aware of the situation. A delegation of 7 vehicles and about 27 people arrived on the farm. Included were Deputy Commissioner Matanga, Chief of National Parks, DA, Chief Admin Police Biet Bridge and various others. They informed owner that Kleinbegin Ranch was to be fast tracked and that the owner was to live in harmony with the illegal occupiers and stop harassing them and stated the farm would be taken because a section 5 notice had been issued. An illegal occupier wielding an axe threatened a farm worker on Quagga Pan B. Fires were started in 6 different areas on Lumbergia Ranch. Illegal occupiers gave farm workers a message for the owner that the owner should vacate the farm and remove cattle off. A Senior Animal Health Inspector, without the knowledge of the Provincial Veterinary Office and against the owner’s wishes, proceeded to dip communal cattle. The owner has laid charges against the Animal Health Inspector. After fighting fires for two days, the owner of Malingani Ranch tried to back burn to prevent further destruction from fires started from the Maranda Communal Lands, and was accused by communal people of starting a fire who in turn started another fire on the ranch. Statistics from fires in Mwenezi : Malingani Ranch - 64%, Solomon Ranch - 80%, Quagga Pan B - 71%, Merrivale Ranch - 50% burnt, Oerwoud Ranch - only 2 paddocks remain unburnt and Rutenga Ranch is totally burnt out.
Mateke Hills - About 250 head of cattle from the Red Zone area have been moved onto Valley Ranch. Police and Veterinary Department officials responded. The owner of Battlefields Ranch recovered traces of fencing and fish that had been netted which had been stolen and hidden under shrubs. On approaching illegal occupiers to inform them to desist from their activities; death threats were made toward him. A majority of these illegal occupiers have previously been apprehended for poaching and stealing of fencing. An entire game fence of 13 strands of wire has been stolen in a certain portion of the fence line. When police went to move communal cattle off the farm back into the communal area, a poacher was arrested in possession of a Kudu that had been snared.
Chiredzi - Veterinary Officials continue to patrol around the area inspecting for Foot and Mouth. Snaring, poaching felling down of trees and arson continue unabated. In the past 18 months on Marakanga Ranch, 60 ha of trees have been felled, 2 Sable, 25 Eland, 37 Wildebeest, 5 Waterbuck, 8 Zebra, 12 Kudu, 5 Giraffe and many other smaller species of wildlife have been killed. Neighbours to this ranch have lost all their wildlife.
Save Conservancy - 3 fires have been started on Humani Ranch by illegal occupiers. Another fire occurred on Hammond Ranch.
Gona Re Zhou - It has been confirmed by an official from the Provincial Land Committee that resettlement is to take place in the park. Presently DDF Tractors are on sight ploughing within the park. Poaching continues unabated. 
Gutu / Chatsworth - Continued harassment of farm owners to move cattle off their farms.

Kwe Kwe - Poaching is heavy throughout the area with ongoing stock theft and slaughtering on sight, pegging and resettlement of farms. There has been extensive movement of communal livestock despite the Foot and Mouth regulations. All listed farms, about 95% of the area, have been, or are in the process of being evaluated by government officials. This includes 26 farms in the area for which delisting applications for delisting have been submitted. In addition, farmers are individually being called to the Kwe Kwe DA's office to answer fabricated charges of racism, opposition politics involvement and other serious allegations.

Visit the CFU Website

The opinions in this message do not necessarily reflect those of the Commercial Farmers' Union which does not accept any legal responsibility for them.
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From FinGaz

I was tortured, ex-CIO spy tells court

Staff Reporter
9/20/01 8:21:15 PM (GMT +2)

A FORMER Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officer told the High Court
yesterday she was tortured and detained by the feared spy agency in another
revelation of wanton use of illegal and inhuman methods by the organisation
to extract information.

The former operative, Abigail Munjoma, alleged she was subjected to inhuman
treatment by her former bosses during an inquiry into alleged fraudulent
activities in the CIO’s stationery department.

Munjoma, who alleged she was locked up in a room and treated like a prisoner
during the interrogation, was discharged from the CIO in September 1998 on
charges of defrauding the agency of over $70 000 through fraudulent
stationery transactions.

"This imprisonment lasted for some hours during which, by threats of
physical violence, I was forced to admit wrongdoing or if I refused I would
undergo further inhuman treatment. In fact, they were threatening to take me
to a farm and beat me up," she said in the court documents.

Munjoma also said she fell victim to the factionalism that was rife within
the CIO at that time and that her dismissal was a ploy by her former bosses
out to get rid of her for siding with a rival faction.

She is challenging her dismissal in the High Court on the grounds that she
was never given a fair opportunity to defend herself and that she has over
the past three years been denied access to the report of the board that
presided over her disciplinary hearing.

She is seeking a court ruling to have her dismissal reversed or to be paid
her terminal benefits, plus back pay for the period she has been out of

Former State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, in a letter to Munjoma
that has also been presented to the court as evidence, told Munjoma she was
being discharged from the CIO because she had failed to disclose her
interests in a stationery firm called Staman that she ran.

Sekeramayi was in charge of the CIO at the time of her dismissal.

The court action cited current State Security Minister Nicholas Goche and
CIO director general Elisha Muzonzini, a former army officer, as the
respondents in the case.

High Court judge Justice Fergus Blackie yesterday reserved judgment in the
case and requested to see the report by the board that presided over the

The CIO, which initially did not oppose the matter, filed last-minute
opposing affidavits on Tuesday. These were not available in court yesterday.
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from FinGaz

Company raids: culprits yet to be brought to book

Staff Reporter
9/20/01 8:16:41 PM (GMT +2)

THE government has yet to prosecute gangs who in May extorted millions of
dollars from Zimbabwean firms at the height of company invasions
masterminded by leaders of so-called war veterans, it was confirmed this

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said only 21 people briefly appeared
before the courts in May, adding that the magistrates’ court would now
proceed by way of summons against them.

"We have done all our investigations and have submitted dockets to the
prosecutors," Bvudzijena told the Financial Gazette.

"We had 21 extortion cases and all these people appeared in court. The
(magistrates) court has said it will however proceed by way of summons."

The extortion charges against the 21 arose from a siege on companies and
factories laid by self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of
independence in the guise of settling labour disputes. Million of dollars
were extorted from companies by the gangs.

Although Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo threatened to crack down on the
extortionists, the culprits and their leaders have yet to be brought to

Bvudzijena said no one had come forward with information implicating Joseph
Chinotimba, the ruling ZANU PF party’s Harare secretary for the commissariat
and a war veteran leader, in the extortion.

The case against another war veteran leader, Chris Pasipamire who was
suspected of extorting $4 million from commuter omnibus company Leno Trading
Private Limited, was dropped by the company, Bvudzijena said.

But Leno Trading managing director Imran Chaudry, who at the height of the
company raids was forced to flee Zimbabwe, could not be reached for comment
this week because he is away in Pakistan.

Mike Moyo, a former war veterans’ vice chairman for Harare province who was
jointly accused with Pasipamire, mysteriously did not appear in the dock in
May despite having been transported to court.

Many companies affected by the May invasions have also not recovered the
money they lost despite making police reports and some have closed down as a

"We have not recovered the money we lost during the period," said an
official with Resource Drilling, a Harare firm that lost $4 million. "We
made a report to the police and they took some statements but nothing has
been done."

A security officer at Heritage Clothing, a company that has stopped
production and whose management fled Zimbabwe, said: "At the moment the
situation still remains the same. There has not been any compensation for
the losses or trial of those implicated.

"What is happening is that a few workers are just cleaning up the factories
and the majority are at home. We are waiting for our managing director to
come back to Harare and maybe that is when production can resume."

Other companies affected by the raids include the Avenues Clinic, computer
supplier NCR Zimbabwe, Dutch technology giant Phillips Electrical, Alcatel
Italia, Fawcett Security, Zimbabwe Spring Steel and Dandy Zimbabwe, a Danish
chewing gum manufacturer which had to seek intervention from its government
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From The Times


Mugabe's chief judge refuses to step down


ZIMBABWE’S new Chief Justice refused yesterday to step down from a
constitutional hearing over President Mugabe’s seizures of white-owned
It took just 30 minutes for the court, dominated by judges recently
appointed by President Mugabe, to dismiss an application by the Commercial
Farmers’ Union for Judge Godfrey Chidyausiku to step down because the union
believes that it will not receive a fair hearing from him.

During the hearing in the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, a close ally of
Mr Mugabe, and one of the new judges repeatedly attacked an advocate, Adrian
de Bourbon, as he argued that Mr Chidyausiku’s past record raised “a
reasonable apprehension” that the case would not receive a fair hearing.

It is now feared that the constitutional court will bulldoze through a
favourable decision on Mr Mugabe’s land seizures. The Government’s appeal
for the seizures to be declared legal began yesterday.

“The decision of this honourable court will reflect whether or not there is
an independent judiciary here in Zimbabwe,” Mr de Bourbon said as the
hearing opened.

David Hasluck, director of the Commercial Farmers’ Union, said that the
court’s final ruling would decide whether farmers would be denied a return
to the rule of law “by a decision that approves state violence”.

Thoughout the past 19 months Zimbabwe’s senior courts have ruled repeatedly
that Mr Mugabe’s so-called “fast-track land reform programme” was illegal.
The regime has ignored all the decisions.

However, the newly constituted court has given Mr Mugabe his first chance to
claim legal respectability for his attempt to settle his ruling party
supporters on 20 million acres of land, representing 85 per cent of all
white-owned land.

A total of 29 farmworkers and nine farmers have been murdered, about 70,000
labourers have been driven from their homes and thousands have been
assaulted since so-called guerrilla war veterans began their violent
invasions of white farms in February last year.

Mr de Bourbon told the Chief Justice yesterday that the union was justified
in its fears that the three new judges with him on the five-judge bench had
been selected to overturn the previous decisions on land.

He said it also appeared that three remaining judges from the Supreme Court
of the former Chief Justice, Anthony Gubbay, who was forced to resign in
March under threat of violence from Mr Mugabe’s supporters, had been
sidelined from the case “to ensure a majority in the matter”.

Mr de Bourbon recalled Mr Chidyausiku’s remarks to a gathering of lawyers
last year, that white farmers were suing the Government as invited by Mr
Gubbay and getting judgements as promised.

He also referred to Mr Chidyausiku’s chairmanship in 1999 of a state
commission to draft a new national Constitution, in which the judge had
permitted reference to “white settlers”, allowed the ruling Zanu (PF) party
to insert its own resolutions and refused to take a vote on the final draft.

On several occasions Luke Malaba, one of the new judges and a former
guerrilla fighter in Zimbabwe’s was of independence, broke into Mr de
Bourbon’s address and accused him of “regurgitating personal attacks” on the
Chief Justice.

The hearing is expected to continue until tomorrow.
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from FinGaz

Police, army come to besieged farmer’s rescue

Staff Reporter
9/20/01 6:12:50 PM (GMT +2)

THE police and the army this week mounted a joint operation to rescue a
Beatrice farmer and defuse a standoff with about 150 war veterans who had
invaded his Logan Lee farm at the weekend, the Commercial Farmers’ Union
(CFU) said yesterday.

The CFU said the intervention, which follows the intensification of attacks
on white-owned properties despite the government’s pledge to halt such
invasions, ended a 72-hour siege on the property.

"Reports from Mashona-land East indicate that a joint operation between
police and the army has ended the 72-hour-long siege of Logan Lee farm in
Beatrice, effectively freeing the farm manager and owner trapped in the farm
house since war veterans and occupiers burnt down staff houses and beat up
workers on the property," it said in a statement.

The invaders on Saturday destroyed tobacco seedbeds on the farm near Harare,
burnt over 20 staff houses, assaulted 12 workers and barricaded the farmer
and his manager in the farm house.

Farm workers who had been ordered to leave the property were back at the
farm by yesterday afternoon.

However, there were reports of fresh violence against commercial farmers in
Marondera, where war veterans and suspected ZANU PF youths attacked
properties and, on one farm, barricaded a farmer in his house.

In Masvingo, CFU regional chairman Mike Clark said huge fires had this week
ravaged grazing lands in the province.

"During my over 30 years in the Lowveld, I have never seen so much
destruction and arson," he said. "Everybody is exhausted from fighting
fires, which are being lit randomly over the entire area.

"There is not much left. Nuanetsi Ranch, despite the presence of the Support
Unit, has had most of its northern sections burned out. The arsonists have
concentrated on Mbizi Section in the south, which is 90 percent burned out.
Quaggapan is also 80 percent burned."

Farmers have complained that the war veterans are not only burning grazing
lands but also setting alight valuable crops.

The government last week signed a Nigerian-negotiated agreement under which
it pledged to end new farm invasions and to evict war veterans from farms
not earmarked for resettlement in return for British funding of its agrarian
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Time for action  - Comment, FinGaz

9/20/01 9:13:50 PM (GMT +2)

IN and around Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, mobs of armed thugs go
around assaulting and evicting farm workers. A week earlier, similar mobs
had terrorised residents of townships there after the mayoral ballot.

In Chivhu, a school headmaster is brutally clubbed to death and another
flees for his life, both accused of being opposition members. Two people are
killed in not-far-away Hwedza as marauders clash with farm workers.

Further north in areas such as Bindura and Chinhoyi, residents have known
little peace since last year as mobs besiege them on a daily basis.

Elsewhere, farmers going about their work are threatened with death and
forced to barricade themselves in their homes by gun-toting thugs.

The same criminals set fire to large tracts of valuable crops in parts of
Zimbabwe - crops the nation badly needs as it stares food shortages.

These few incidents among too many to catalogue mirror a country under
mounting siege - a siege caused by plain terrorists who have been allowed to
become a law unto themselves.

Significantly, most of these criminal acts have occurred after the
government promised to clamp down on lawlessness under an accord signed in
Nigeria's capital Abuja two weeks ago in a last-ditch effort to arrest
Zimbabwe's burgeoning crisis.

The time has surely come for President Robert Mugabe to act decisively and
overwhelmingly against the heightening political violence, not just because
his government signed up to Abuja but because it is the government's
foremost duty to protect life and property under its jurisdiction.

No government worth its salt anywhere in the world should ever tolerate
chaos, whatever the cause or justification of the terrorists involved.

Tragically in this case, most of the agents of death and violence owe their
allegiance to none other than the ruling ZANU PF party and are funded by
taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and cents at a time of biting economic
hardships for most citizens.

This madness-there are no other words to describe it - cannot and must not
be allowed to go on much longer.

Either the government acts resolutely to end this brazen and callous assault
on innocent Zimbabweans or it ceases to be a lawful authority by its own
acts of commission or omission.

The government ought to realise that the long patience of ordinary
Zimbabweans and that of the international community is wearing pretty thin
over its open support and sponsorship of this mayhem.

If by putting its signature on the Abuja accord the government hoped to buy
time to cow the nation into submission ahead of the presidential election,
then it is in for a rude shock.

The nation is angry and clearly ready to vent its feelings in the upcoming
ballot. The international community will certainly no longer brook any more
of these terror acts, which are no different to the mindless slaughter of
thousands of innocents by whomever in New York and Washington last week.

Mugabe should have got the cue of things to come from the increasingly blunt
language of southern African heads of state who met him in Harare last week.

As Malawian President Bakili Muluzi stated unambiguously on behalf of other
heads of state, Mugabe has up to a month to show progress on the ground on
ending political violence and lawlessness, otherwise he will be left to

We have no doubt that the same if not tougher message will be passed on to
the President by leaders of the Commonwealth at their summit in Australia
next month.

The message is clear enough: the time for empty promises and political games
is over - we now need real deeds and action.

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From FinGaz

Mugabe’s $6.5b campaign

Sydney Masamvu Political Editor
9/20/01 8:12:53 PM (GMT +2)

 THE government, raising the stakes in the impending do-or-die presidential
election, will sink about $6.5 billion from state coffers in the next four
months into revamping social services and launching housing projects
countrywide, including funding so-called self-help projects in rural areas,
it was established this week.

Senior government officials said the money for the new projects would be
culled from the $17.2 billion supplementary budget, which was due to be
debated and passed by Parliament yesterday after presentation by Finance
Minister Simba Makoni on Tuesday.

The money will come from a vote of credit, which is set to get $4 billion
under the supplementary budget, to fund projects that are already in
progress or waiting to be implemented.

An extra $2.5 billion in the supplementary budget will officially be used
for drought relief and in aiding flood-hit areas, mainly targeting the rural
areas where the ruling ZANU PF party still has some support.

The officials disclosed that the extra budget sought to rapidly address
various critical issues to boost President Robert Mugabe’s re-election
chances in what is shaping up to be his biggest political battle ever in a
presidential ballot that must be held by March.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, faces
a stiff challenge to his throne from Morgan Tsvangirai, the youthful head of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"We have issues which we need to address before the presidential election
and the supplementary budget will go a long way towards fulfilling some of
the inadequacies," one top government official said.

The official, as all others who spoke to the Financial Gazette, preferred
not to be named for fear of victimisation. The officials are involved in
plotting Mugabe’s re-election.

Although the presidential poll has to be held by the end of March next year,
the sources said it could be staged as early as at the end of January.

The officials said ZANU PF’s presidential election strategy team, which
includes the spy Central Intelligence Organisation, had called for a
vigorous facelift of social services in all urban areas as a way to woo the
urban vote away from the MDC.

The opposition party, which narrowly lost last year’s general elections,
draws most of its support from cities and towns, hard hit by Zimbabwe’s
worst economic crisis.

The officials said under Mugabe’s eleventh hour charge, the government would
award its bloated public service of more than 165 000 a salary increase in
the face of runaway inflation that soared to a record 76.1 percent last

Among other issues, the plan will see the government allocating housing
stands and plots to low-and-middle income earners in most urban areas from
land acquired under the so-called fast-track resettlement programme,
declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

Local Government and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo has already
issued a directive to local authorities to service land acquired under the
resettlement plan in preparation for the allocation of the stands.

Other measures include refurbishing old hostels and roads in restive
townships such as Mbare in Harare and demolishing old houses in some towns.
In Bindura, the government has already indicated it will construct new
houses in Chipadze township.

The government will also revive the Pay-for-Your-House scheme for low-income
earners, which collapsed in scandal four years ago after millions of dollars
paid into the fund by lowly paid civil servants were diverted to construct
posh houses for ZANU PF politicians and officials.

Kembo Mohadi, the deputy Local Government and Housing Minister, confirmed
that the Pay-for-Your-House scheme was about to be re-launched.

According to the sources, the successful implementation of these strategies
is timed to coincide with launch of ZANU PF’s presidential election

The plan to mobilize the urban vote will be spearheaded by Cabinet
committees set up by Mugabe recently to undertake projects with a quick
turnaround in preparation for the election.
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from FinGaz

Govt spurns US group’s offer to help in polls

Staff Reporter
9/20/01 8:19:04 PM (GMT +2)

THE government has turned down an offer from the American-based
International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES) to assist Zimbabwe to
prepare for next year’s landmark presidential elections, it was learnt this

IFES director for Africa and the Near East Thomas Bayer and senior programme
officer Laurie Cooper are believed to have been subsequently expelled from
the country.

According to a letter from Bayer to Zimbabwe’s Registrar-General Tobaiwa
Mudede, the two IFES officials arrived in Harare early this month to prepare
the groundwork for a series of technical election observation visits to be
organised and implemented by the organisation.

Part of the letter reads: "During our brief visit, we seek to meet with
officials representing the election administration structure as well as
representatives of key stakeholder constituencies to develop a sense of the
status of preparations for next year’s presidential elections.

"As Zimbabwe’s registrar-general, you play a pivotal role in the
organisation and the administration of the nation’s elections. We seek a
meeting with you during the week of September 9 to discuss registration and
election preparations to date and to learn more about the election
administration structure that you have worked to establish in Zimbabwe. At
that time, we would be pleased to discuss our programme in greater detail
with you."

The offer was however rebuffed by Mudede’s office, which turned down a
meeting with the representatives of the IFES, an internationally recognised
and non-partisan body which has assisted with elections in several

In a letter signed on his behalf by a BT Mpala, Mudede said Zimbabwe’s
election system, widely believed to be in need of a major overhaul to make
it more efficient and tamper-proof, was advanced and did not need technical
assistance from the IFES.

The letter reads: "We feel Zimbabwe’s election system is advanced and will
not need your technical assistance on election matters, particularly in view
of your last US presidential election, which demonstrated the contrary.

"We have not seen Africans involved in the observation of European (or)
American elections. With the participation and assistance of African
organisations such as SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), African
Union, etc, Zimbabwe will satisfactorily manage the presidential elections
without your assistance."

Sources said the IFES officials had however managed to meet non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) and are believed to then have been summoned to the
Department of Immigration on Wednesday last week and asked to leave Zimbabwe
the following day.

"They (immigration) didn’t deport them — they just asked them to leave the
country and told them they were not welcome," a source told the Financial

However, it was not possible to confirm the expulsion with Bayer and Cooper
in Washington this week and immigration officials and the American embassy
in Harare had not responded to inquiries by late yesterday.

An official of a Harare NGO said: "It’s quite clear that they (government)
don’t want a close scrutiny of the elections. This doesn’t bode well for
free and fair elections."

The government is reported to have also tried to put off a visit by a
European Union (EU) mission, which has proposed an eight-day visit to
explore possible EU support for voter education and election observation,
among other issues.
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Poverty Deepens Disgust At Government's Economic Policies

Financial Gazette (Harare)

September 20, 2001
Posted to the web September 20, 2001

Abel Mutsakani

At Hatcliffe Extension, a depressing squatter camp about 18 kms out on
Harare's northern flank, tuckshop owner Mary Chuma despairs.

"Whatever money I raise from my sales now is not going to be enough to pay
for new stocks because the wholesalers would have doubled or even tripled
their prices," she said at the weekend.

Less than five metres away, Chuma's daughter Siphiwe is selling 750 ml
bottles of cooking oil at $110 each. Each of the same bottles and same type
of cooking oil are selling at $130 over the counter at Chuma's tuckshop.

This is just one of the puzzling market distortions as Zimbabwe suffers an
unprecedented economic crisis that political analysts say could spark
widespread social unrest as prices of all commodities continue to skyrocket
while retailers say long-feared shortages of basic foodstuffs are already

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political scientist Masipula Sithole says with
the country already on a knife-edge as it gears up for a potentially
history-drawing presidential ballot next year, the worsening economic
hardships could spark mass food protests across the country.

President Robert Mugabe seeks to extend his 21-year rule by another six
years in a presidential poll due early next year. But some analysts say the
77-year-old president could easily lose the election to the popular
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, especially if next year's presidential
race is free and fair.

"The country is hurting," Sithole said this week. "I, for one, am ready to
join others in the streets to protest against the spiralling food prices,"
he said, illustrating the desperation to which most Zimbabweans have been
driven by economic hardships which analysts this week said could only
worsen, at least in the foreseeable future.

These sentiments are widespread despite the government finally agreeing to a
Nigerian-brokered deal to end its often violent drive to seize land from
white farmers in exchange for British funds to implement fair and just land
reforms in the country.

Zimbabwe's costly involvement in the Congo war, the government's ballooning
spending and the violent land invasions which scared away foreign investors
and capital are being blamed for the country's current crisis, which last
year sent the economy tumbling by at least six percent and could slide by up
to six percent this year.

UZ business studies lecturer Professor Anthony Hawkins said: "Even with this
Nigerian accord no one, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is
prepared to put money in Zimbabwe until after the presidential election is

"That means the economic crisis continues indeed as the latest inflation
figures from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) may tell."

In its latest inflation figures, the government-run CSO said Zimbabwe's
annual inflation rate surged to a record 76.1 percent in August, heightening
fears it could jump to an unprecedented three-digit figure by the end of the

The CSO attributed the latest inflation surge to increases in the prices of
bread and cereals, rent and rates, vehicle running costs and public
transport fares.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo decried on national television last
Sunday the price hikes as "economic terrorism" by opponents of the
government's land reform.

He said the price increases were designed to sway the electorate against the
ruling ZANU PF party ahead of next year's presidential ballot.

Whatever the cause of the economic malaise that has so far manifested itself
in acute foreign currency and fuel shortages and the price hikes, Harare
high school teacher Paul Shato's one wish is ironically that the crisis
deteriorates further.

"More hardship is what shall only wake up everyone so that we can do what we
should have done five years ago - and that is to fire those who are running
the country today because they have clearly betrayed us," he explained.

"Makoni (Finance Minister Simba Makoni) said we should use bicycles because
they are cheaper than riding on cars and buses but please tell me what I
should do to substitute food," Shato said as he angrily walked away.

Makoni, a respected technocrat recruited by Mugabe to help rescue Zimbabwe's
collapsing economy, has reduced import duty on bicycles and spare parts to
encourage the poor to use this cheaper mode of transport.

But this and other solutions Makoni and the government have prescribed so
far have failed dismally to turn around the economy, or to at least appease
increasingly angry Zimbabweans.

Back at Chuma's tuckshop at the dusty squatter camp, the same disgust
exhibited by Shato at Makoni and the government's failed economic policies
could be clearly read on the faces of the Shuvai Mombe and Rosemary
Rangarirai as they busily washed clothes at the squatter camp's water point.

"It is not that we hate the government, but you tell us what the government
thinks our children eat when everything is so expensive?" Mombe asked.

With much conviction, her friend Rangarirai added: "The government will lose
the election next year if only people in the rural areas wake up this time

In last year's parliamentary election, ZANU PF party narrowly escaped
defeat, losing all seats in urban areas but winning almost all rural ones to
garner 62 seats against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's 57.

The remaining seat out of the 120 contested seats was won by the smaller
ZANU Ndonga party.

Sithole said: "The hardships Zimbabweans are facing now are unusual. They
have not experienced anything like this before and this is bound to
influence their voting patterns in the coming election."
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Farmer, workers up for murder

Harare – An elderly farmer and 30 of his labourers have been formally charged with murder after violence flared when his land was invaded at the weekend, the government press reported on Thursday.

John Bibby, 70, had initially been accused of inciting violence and being an accessory to murder before the murder charges against him and his employees were presented in court on Wednesday in Marondera in north west Zimbabwe.

On Saturday, several dozen militant supporters of government plans to redistribute mainly white-owned farmland to landless blacks invaded Bibby's farm at Bita, about 100km southeast of Harare.

Police said that Bibby's workers beat to death two of the people who went to the farm to help some of their number take possession of ground which had been allocated to them by President Robert Mugabe's regime.

In vengeance for the killings, the farm invaders set fire to the homes of agricultural labourers and the farm offices, according to the police account.

However, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) has stated that the men who died were accidentally killed when they fell from one of the packed lorries transporting activists around the area.

The army has since been deployed at Bita to prevent further trouble and looting.

The incident came after the government agreed at talks in Abuja, Nigeria, to put an end to violence which has been a feature of the land reform programme and to call a halt to the illegal occupation of farms.

In exchange, the former colonial power, Britain, made a strong commitment to provide "substantial" financial support for land redistribution.

The CFU has stated that violence continues unabated since the Abuja deal, which was struck at a meeting bringing together several Commonwealth members and the organisation's chief executive.

The union, comprised mainly of white commercial farmers, also said that 22 farms have been newly occupied since the Abuja deal was struck.

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Zimbabwe wants land reform legalised
Looted white farm
White farmers have been trying to get a fair hearing
By our reporter in Harare

As pressure mounts on Zimbabwe to restore the rule of law on white farms, the government is seeking a Supreme Court ruling to endorse the controversial land reform programme.

Last December, the court ruled that the government should restore order on the farms.

It also told the authorities to come up with a clearly defined programme for land distibution before acquiring land.

Farm-workers packing their bags
Thousands of black farm-workers have been evicted from their homes by occupiers

That order was however ignored and hundreds of farms have been occupied while farmers and farm workers continue to be beaten and harrassed.


Still, the government argues it has restored the rule of law on the farms and there are merely isolated cases of violence.

But If it wins this case, then it could claim that all previous land occupations were in accordance with the law.

However, the white-dominated Commercial Farmers' Union claims that 20 farms have been invaded and scores of farm workers and farmers attacked since the Commonwealth Abuja agreement was signed two weeks ago.

The agreement called for the British Government to help fund compensation for white farmers whilst the government enforces order in the re-distribution process.

Analysts say the government's move to seek a Supreme Court endorsement of the current controversial land acquisition programme could have come as a result of rising international pressure for the restoration of order.

Murder charge

The United States and the European Union have threatened to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe unless the government upholds the rule of law.

President Robert Mugabe's government blames white farmers for further violence since the Abuja deal was struck.

Former  Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay
Gubbay was forced out to make way for a pro-Mugabe judiciary

A white farmer and 30 of his workers have been charged with murdering two men who were dividing his farm up into small plots for redistribution to black peasants.

The government's constitutional case is before a full bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku who was appointed earlier this year under controversial circumstances which legal experts say were political.


He replaced former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, who retired under pressure from the government in June and who oversaw last December's ruling against the government.

But Mr Chidyausiku, who was then a High Court judge, publicly condemned the judgement saying that the government did not need a workable land reform programme in place first before it could acquire land.

Against this background, the CFU said it was uncomfortable appearng before the new chief justice.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe is trying hard to get legal backing

It has made an application that Mr Chidyausiku should not rule on this case and that a different panel of judges be selected to hear it.

Three senior judges who were part of the bench that ruled against the government in December, have been replaced by new judges appointed last month.

The CFU application was on Wednesday rejected and so the government's case continues.

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