We Ploughed the fields and scattered – Tim Henwood

via email and ZimbabweSituation Facebook 13 November 2013 by Tim Henwood President of CFU 1999-2001

The time has come for something to happen

Zimbabwe has, after five years of a Government of National unity, emerged from an election with a result. There are many who dispute the outcome. There are those who refuse to recognise it. There are some, more realistic who have accepted the result, and are trying desperately to map out a way forward from both within and outside the country.

I have recently been back to Zimbabwe to see for myself. I returned to Australia, where we now live, knowing more and feeling that something positive may be about to happen.

For the past few years positive perception has only been allowed if it involved regime change and a new government. There has been a demand for elections to be held under acceptable conditions seen by observers to be free and fair. The elections have come and gone and all accredited foreign observers, all with some reservation, have accepted the elections reflected the will of the people to a standard that was within the norms of elections in Africa.

Whatever ones opinion may be, what is beyond doubt today is that Zimbabwe has a newly elected government which will be in power for five years before going to the polls again. What is also beyond doubt is that the opposition’s hopes of election are well and truly finished in the short term. The new government, which is in fact a very old government has all the required majority to go ahead as it chooses.

The most positive thing is that out of all this there may be an opportunity, because of  the  mess, to move forward.

The financial system is at breaking point. Food reserves are at an all time low and the new season is breaking. The farmers, both new and old, the few white and the many black farmers are crying out for credit and an opportunity to make good the situation the country faces. Under current circumstances there is very little hope of anything much being produced in 2013/14 season. The required miracle becomes larger with every day that passes.

Zimbabwe has an ageing president who wants to leave a legacy of successful reform but as things are there is little or no hope of that. Without a return of confidence nothing can improve. That confidence can only come from good governance and security of investment.

The feeling one gets is that there is a definite desire for the current conflicts to be resolved and a way forward to be worked out.

The most pressing need is for recognition and international financial backing.

There is almost universal acceptance that the major conflict that has to be resolved is the land issue and that as long as land has no bankable value there will be little hope of improvement for agriculture and the country as a whole.

As one of those who once ploughed the fields and are now scattered I am confident that the chances of some form of resolution is now possible.

In order to for an acceptable agreement to be reached there has to be representation of all parties at the negotiating table.

The CFU has over the years made more friends than enemies, had more supporters than detractors and has always done its utmost to best represent the interests of farmers. The role it plays in 2013 Zimbabwe is a far cry from the role ten or fifteen years ago, but whatever the change, it remains the only credible organisation both internationally and internally with whom any negotiation can occur. An internal agreement will go a long way to help our cause internationally and only then can hope for a resolution and compensation come to fruition. It may never happen but what is certain is that if there is nobody representing farmers interests, everybody loses and the outcome will be worse.

Ironically the biggest risk to the credibility of the CFU comes from those it tries so hard to represent. The decreased number of paid up members means we all run a serious risk of being unrepresented when any attempt is made to resolve our problem. A reduced membership will diminish the chances of success for every farmer involved in any way in Zimbabwean Agriculture. The new generation of young whites sharing with the new settlers may think they are secure, the older generation may consider it all a pipe dream and some may feel they have moved on and no longer care.


NO MEMBERS       no representation

NO MEMBERS    no money to finance the continuing efforts on our behalf

Non farming members under seventy can be members for the cost of a cup of coffee a week, Just $200 a year. Over 70’s only pay $50. Surely this is a small price to pay for a final effort to bring about closure to a very complex problem

JOIN UP and let’s go forward to a final resolution


President of CFU 1999-2001

E mail: henwood100@bigpond.com

phone: +61466510956



  • comment-avatar
    georgesebedebe 9 years ago

    Tim Henwood, I wrote to your directly and requested that you urge your members in the CFU to come up with a formular for compensation that includes the AFRICAN PEOPLE who suffered 100 years of deprevation of their land at the hands of the very white farmers you want compensated. To simply ask the Zimbabwe government to tax its people in order to pay Trillions of American Dollars that would be required to satisfy your compensation demand is preposterous. The Africans cannot be taxed to pay for their land. The Africans are the ones that must be compensated. The CFU lost time since 2000 persuing regime change. I bet you the CFU will lose another 100 years if they persue compensation from this selfish stand point. No one is listening to them. The CFU is now an organisation that has members who are not on the land, who are not producing, who are irrelevant!!!

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      William Doctor 9 years ago

      @ Georgesebede

      Your arguments have no basis. The former farmers are within their right to demand compensation for development to the land, and for any lands purchased after 1980 [a vast number of farms]. These substantial funds alone will allow the former farmers to develop business interests, in whatever field they choose – including agriculture. The Zimbabwean Govt is obliged to pay those funds. The British Govt can compensate the farms purchased pre-1980.

      Regards ‘African people’ and ‘deprivation’, then can you please arrange for the Ndebele peoples to fund the former inhabitants of Matabeleland, and for the Shona to fund the San peoples, now resident in Botswana (after being driven off their ancestral lands).

      Don’t underestimate us comrade. We are well educated, funded and travelled. We can counter any- and every-one of your arguments, with ease. This fight will continue for 100 years until we get full compensation. And we have nothing to lose – but you have everything to lose.

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        There is no substance Henwood and the white puppet who does not recognise that Africans needs compensation.

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          William Doctor 9 years ago

          @ Musa

          And you wonder why no one takes you seriously? Can you elaborate on what you’re trying to say? Or do you have anything to say, other than maybe ‘evil whites’, ‘must go’, ‘it is all ours’, ‘we want money’, ‘we don’t care about elections’, ‘feed us and then f*ck off’ blah blah blah.

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    Mike Patterson 9 years ago

    Well said Tim.

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    William Doctor 9 years ago

    Just keep fighting for compensation. That’s all.

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    maisokwazo 9 years ago

    Mr Tim Henwood in as much as true Zimbabwean don’t condone your contribution which you are entitled to it goes without say that although much thought has been put into your perception of the current situation in Zimbabwe, it also goes without saying that a little stretch into your assumptions and persuasion would cement your argument. The fact that you advocate that we Zimbabweans should accept the present reality and move on since there was an election with an outcome and that we should accept since SADCC AU and UN came to the conclusion that the outcome of the elections is acceptable. These premises are defeatism at its worst and disastrous in nature because in reality no progress is achievable without the intend to progress. To attain a degree of progress is dependent on attitudes. The attitude that some people are second class in a country of their birth is divisive by nature and is counterproductive to the attainment of progress. It is only when those in authority change their attitudes towards their subjects that a degree of hegemony is achievable and the need to go on becomes plausible. Yet the present situation dictates that the powerless assume a negative and wait and see attitude and this curtails the need to go on. So before you urge Zimbabweans to succumb to unscrupulous dictatorship it is paramount to wage a war of resistance even with odds against us and even though the world seem to have abandoned Zimbabweans and you know a sinking man will cling to straw That is what Zimbabweans are right now and your talk of propping up an illegal regime that assumed power through bogus elections and chicanery is nonentity no matter what the world believes and thinks. For your information those that rushed to rubber stamp the elections are not Zimbabweans and do not know the conditions Zimbabwe are living right now.

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    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    It is true that Zimbabwe has to somehow move forward with this present Zanu PF government, and a somewhat more realistic verbal atmosphere does seem to be coming from the government.
    However on the ground, Zanu PF is prosecuting / persecuting the opposition in the law courts even more ferociously than ever: Mtetwa; Komichi and Mount Pleasant Election challenge. And they have started demolition of illegal structures: Ruwa, Damofalls; so far.
    These events give people very strong reason to hold back. There is a fear that we will return to the dark days. Mugabe is beyond reform, since has never been able to recognize his mistakes.

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    cahallgren 9 years ago

    What a lot of nonsense from Henwood. Hasn’t there been enough attempt at appeasement? And to what affect?

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    Clemence Munyukwi 9 years ago

    If anyone has hope in the new but same old government in Zimbabwe then brace for a huge disappointment because Mugabe and his dead wood around him had nearly 30 years of their own to improve things the way they so wished but failed. If Mugabe wishes to leave a successful legacy I would say it’s too little too late

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    Shebah 9 years ago

    Tim – A good comment, the best so far coming from the former white farmers. But you need to address the problem of membership. CFU membership growth now will be viewed with great suspicion. Why dont the former members who are no longer farmers form another association. Your cause is now totally different from the farming members. You then focus on what you want to achieve.
    As for the farming season the new farmers are already planning without assistance, its to late to receive assistance and we will produce with what we have. If we dont experience erratic rain fall pattern what is coming from the farmers might not be enough to export but should be enough for the nation. If there is too much rains we dont have supplementary fertilisers.
    Maisokwazo you leave in dream land, remember democracy is about majority vote. I wonder where you will get the majority to your favour. Sekuru Mapenga your comment shows you are not even in Zimbabwe. Stop misleading your fellow men. People like you have nothing to loose.

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    Kurarama ne Raki 9 years ago


    Thank you for your comments which provide a point for discussion on the pertinent issue of the way forward for Zimbabwe’s future development. I would have wanted to say that you make valid points, but unfortunately other than stating that ZANU PF is in power for the next 5 years (their ability to run this government for the next 5 years will be sorely tested), everything is has no foundation in fact. The fact of the matter is that the Government faces a legitimacy crisis rooted out of the fact that despite ‘winning’ the election, no one including the SADC, the AU and the UN whom you claimed endorsed really believes in the legitimacy of this government. if they did, they would be the first to offer financial support to help the government function. They have no confidence in the government although ‘they endorsed it’. They are thus unable to put their money, their investments, their confidence in this government where they mouth (the endorsement is). Secondly the challenges that this Government faces, are of their making over the last 30 years: They have steadfastly refused to listen to reason whether it has been on land reform or management of the economy. They have mortgaged this country to high heaven and now when no one wants to lend them money, when they know that they will only get token amounts back (i.e. $150,000 etc for millions in arrears). I agree with you, this government wants a solution to move forward but only a solution that lets them abrograte their responsibilities to the squander and mismanagement of the last 30 years.

    Do not forget that it is the same government that stole billions of dollars from its citizens (and bear in mind, companies registered in Zimbabwe are for all legal purposes recognized as citizens) which they are unable to return and have not offered any tangible plan to return to its legitimate owners. How then do you honestly expect them to even consider compensating CFCU for land (even if for fixtures)? I find you naivety surprising in the least.

    I do however agree with you with regard to optimism about the future. The fact of the matter is that ZANU-PF cannot govern this country alone over the next 5 years. That is a fact which however unpalatable to ZANU PF, they will have to chew. They lack the legitimacy and confidence of those with the levers of power. They have no option but to speak to the MDC and although people think that the MDC has been weakened by this election, they actually are now in a stronger position to negotiate when ZANU PF comes begging and he will. They must just sit tight and watch this government crumble under the burden of governing under the worst conditions possible. They can than dictate the terms of them cloaking ZANU PF in the clothes the legitimacy they sorely lack and crave. My expectation is that a caretaker government will be in place by Mid-June 2014 at the very latest. Mark my words

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    chimusoro 9 years ago

    You really believe something positive is about to happen? Based on what? A hunch? A dream?

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    Rwendo 9 years ago

    Appeasing ZANU PF is like negotiating with an adult, wild crocodile that has your head in its mouth that if it lets you go, you will give it your arm instead…the critter will only smile…

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    Mr Mixed Race 9 years ago

    Its not surprising to hear from a guy who has failed to blend into the Australian way of life.You are not the first one who is regretting leaving our troubled land.You are not qualified to comment on our current problems because things have moved on since you left.The suggestions you are making were true a few years ago before these looters damaged our country beyond reasonable doubt.We are not worried about land issue now because once we sort out corruption and economy,the land issue will be resolved as in the case of the Indians in Uganda during Idi Amin.Once these looters account for the diamonds and other minerals monies this nation will be respected because we have the required wealth to remove us from this current mess.WE are not stupid but patient and very intelligent people.We know that to possess land you have to get title deeds otherwise its not yours,this is why the government has allocated these so-called new farmers 99 year leases. Do you know why leases?The answer to this question is obvious to an intelligent person. Shebah -What kind of a farmer are you? You are like a spoiled child who wants help all the time from others,instead of becoming independent.A devoted farmer spends 90% of his time on his land,however some of your contributions were good.

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    mambo 9 years ago

    More than a decade ago Tim Henwood and Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi flanked Robert Mugabe at State House on ZBC’s 8 o’clock news. There was no common cause. The CFU under Henwoods tenure had lost the plot, and were about to loose their farms to Hunzvi’s “war vets”.

    People like Henwood relocated and didn’t live through the madness of 2007 and 2008, so have little to contribute now to the future of this country. The “more positive” something which will happen shortly is that the ZANU (PF) government will run out of money and the political and banking systems will collapse.

    Now Henwood and ZANU (PF) share a common cause, without Hunzvi. They have both lost the plot and completely misread the underlying current of those that had their vote and voice stolen by the election “winners”. It is they, and not ZANU (PF), who will change the future of Zimbabwe.

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    tophaevy 9 years ago

    So, Henwood, the whites are the farmers and blacks are the settlers as per a paragraph in your script? And I take it, you will take contributions from the whites as they are the farmers and then relegate the blacks to being the farm hands. Are you saying you want to come back and establish the elitist whites only clubs and schools in the remote wild of the country and then elevate yourselves to God status? Are you trying to make me believe in the most unpalatable notion that Zanu pf is better than the cfu? So then, I would rather have a black saddist for a president than a racist white who balkes from a country he claims to be his, from a country far away in the oceania and awaits for an opportunity when a lot of blacks have died for the liberation of their country, only to be
    their ”Baas” I was of the opinion that you people want to be part of the development of this country, but what I see is a veiled intention of assuming the supremacy you enjoyed as owners of virtually everything. We see it even in the few companies you control in the country today like National Foods where a white man , Nigel Weller has been appointed to lead blacks at the Bulawayo branch. His position was never advertised for fear highly schooled black folks in the system would pip this white man for the job, since the southern region HQ had been under the stewardship of the the blacks till this chap rode into town. All this and more points to a situation where you whites will never view a black man as an equal no matter what.

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    Johann 9 years ago

    Tim. We the commercial farmers, represented by the CFU, held out the olive branch to Zanu pf long before the formation of the MDC. In my personal capacity I approached Zanu pf and volunteered subdivision of the property I bought in Zimbabwe(not Rhodesia)
    The very boundaries of Zimbabwe and indeed my farm were surveyed and set out by the British Empire. The term “real estate” evolves from “royal estate” and it is under the strength and trust of such a charter that an owner of real estate has the confidence to develop their property and prosper. Mr Mugabe chose to break this charter and created one big communal land out of the commercial farming area. We all know the difference between privately owned land and communal land. The current occupiers of this new communual land know that their tenure is based solely on their standing within Zanu pf. My trust was broken when I was dispossessed of my section of my subdivided real estate. My confidence to develop and indeed future ability to farm was shattered when my moveable assets where stolen from my business by the commissioner of police (not the government). It is up to Zanu pf to create confidence not the CFU.

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    Johnny k 9 years ago

    Nobody is going to lend anyone any money without having the capacity to sell immovable assets to recover their loan. Without Cast Iron guarantees to cover Title Deeds protected by Constitutional Laws you cannot ever move forward.
    ZANU has packed our courts with Judges that have been reduced to rubber stamping or ministerial edicts.
    Title Deeds cannot EVER be cancelled in the eyes of international Law. Insurance companies look to the laws of the land before underwriting insurance on loans to foreign countries.
    It is a very little known fact that civil engineering and mining companies who wish to bring plant and equipment into Zimbabwe are unable to get insurance cover, and we are one of the very few countries in Africa unable to be insured.
    Everything applicable to International and domestic finance is dependent on the rule of law with Title Deeds as the basis of recovery of debt.
    The ZANU kleptocracy can swear, cry foul, weep, stomp their feet or plead poverty until they are blue in the face. Until we have a return to the rule of law where confiscated land is paid for we (As a Nation) will never be able to borrow money or attract investment.
    No company, parastatal or individual will be able to borrow money to buy a house,start a business or purchase farming inputs until we have a return to the security of tenure.
    It has nothing to do with Black vs Whites or Rich vs Poor, it is just a fact of life and centuries old solid economic practice. Even the Chinese have moved away from the communist doctrine and are using capitalist economic policies to fuel their recovery.