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Sent: 05 April 2000 05:34

Subject: Farm Invasions in Zimbabwe

Hi All,
The following is an email from my friend Aron, whose family owns a small farm in Ruwa, some 30km from Harare. Aron is a great bloke and a leader of my church home group. My adopted country need our prayers at the moment.

On the morning of the 29th of March at about 9:00, 60 people came onto our farm. They sent us a letter claiming to be ex - combatants and stated categorically that they were claiming their land and that they would only leave us with about 15 of the 141 hectares that we own and have LEGALLY owned since 1985!!!!! yes 5 years AFTER independence.

In response, we called the police from the little depot that they have near our eastern gate. Approximately an hour later, we gave up waiting or them to arrive and went and fetched them! They said that two details would come onto the farm and investigate the situation. This they duly did and reported back to us that although the 60 people claimed to be war veterans they were nothing of the sort and were merely freeloaders from the humble squatter camp that you called home. They therefore said that they had the right to summons the riot police corps and have the people removed from the farm. Cool, we thought, there is some law left in Zimbabwe after all. Ha ha ha, they weren't lying when they said "assumption is the mother of all f&@k - ups", (excuse the expression, I though it was appropriate). Needless to say, the cops never returned.

Meanwhile the number had grown to 200 people moving into Bellapaise Estates, (Get you free land Here)(Private) Limited. By the time the cops finally gave in to our barrage of phonecalls, now to dangerous to leave the house and go and collect them, they promised us that two more details would be sent to investigate the already investigated situation. They arrived at about 5:30 that afternoon and, because work stops at 5 in Zimbabwe, it is only logical that land grabbing stops at 5 as well! The cops therefore found and reported that all the people had left our farm!

Next morning, 300 people returned, and we phoned the police again. They sent two more details and agreed that there were now more than 300 people on the land and that yes, this was indeed a bad and dangerous situation but, no,under theorders of the Commissioner of Police who is under instruction from Dumiso Dabengwa, who is under instruction from no less than the Hon, Bob himself, there is nothing that the police can or will do to sort the situation out as it was political and should therefore be handled by the politicians. So we decide to do a little investigating ourselves and find out (and this is fair dinkum) that the MP for our area, a fine lady by the name of Irene Zinde is using our farm as a neat little campaigning tool andhanding out 20 to 30 metre plots to whoever buys a party card and promises to vote for her. Needless to say, she is fighting under the banner of the Zanu PF ruling (hah) party. Anyway, as Thursday afternoon draws to a close we get word that "we have now occupied half of this land and when we have taken all the land, we are going to come and kick you out of your house and furniture factory, which as you know is a small enterprise that we run on the farm, and take over everything completely. There were by this time in excess of 800 people on the farm. Thursday night was the longest night of our lives.

The time has probably come to draw the very real distinction between this and other farm invasions (more than 500 nation-wide). The other farm invasions have been conducted by real war veterans who have GENERALLY occupied farms 10 or 20 times the size of ours way out of town in a peaceful manner. Normally, between 5 and 30 people have been involved in the occupation. They have not allocated themselves lots or anything of the sort and they generally just sit on the land waiting for something to happen. We have no war veterans on our farm, there are, at that point, over 800 people on the farm and there have been threats made on our lives. They have also allocated themselves land and have moved in wherever they feel like it. They also don't stay on the farm after dark.

Friday, and the light dawns on another shit day in sunny Zimbabwe. Aron decides it is time to contact the lawyers and see what we can actually do about this. I spent the whole day on the phone to lawyers, Commercial Farmers Union President and Vice presidents and to a whole number of policeman, including the Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, the aforementioned's immediate subordinate. Only to be reminded that there is "NOTHING WE CAN DO". Oh and don't leave the farm. While this is going on, the leaders of this great land grab declare that all the land that was to be allocated has been allocated and that there is no more available. Well, as you know, Epworth is the home of more than 300000 people, and 3000 of those have also gotten wind that there is land available on our farm. These guys get angry and chase off the leaders and then declare their own guys the leaders. They produce knives and other instruments that come in handy when there in killing to be done and start fighting the now established 1200 people for the already occupied land and also start claiming additional land and getting closer and closer to house. The noise was unbelievable and the fear that only one who has been in a situation where there are 4000 people rioting on your farm can identify with, was also pretty hard to control. But there are certain things in life that don't change and at 5, the rioting stopped and every body went home. Friday night took a while to pass as well. Saturday, the leaders return to try and establish some order on the farm and do this by saying that there is another farm on the other side of the airport that is welcoming the landless and so 3000 people left us and went west to pioneer Butler's place. That still leaves us with 1200 people on our farm. Another point must be made clear at this junction. These people that have now been allocated plots have been given strict instructions by these guys that they are to clear their area and do no more; no foundations are to be dug, no building materials are to be brought in, nothing, besides the clearing of grass is to be done to the land. The grass, they don't realise, is actually a crop worth alot of money which we plant and reap to sell as thatching grass.

Your prayers would come in handy.

As a quick note to finish off, there was a peaceful march consisting of 8000 National Constitutional Assembly supporters yesterday in the city. In this lot, were my brother, Karen's brother and Karen's father. All were walking along when they were accosted by Zanu PF supporters sporting batons,clubs, iron bars, bricks and rocks. The march did not remain peaceful. The riot police that had been accompanying the march started to lay in, not, as you would expect, to the Zanu guys but joined them in beating the NCA guys. Sean and Mike were chased off and were unable to assist Steve as he lay on the ground being kicked and clubbed all over his body, until he too, a man of incredible courage and stamina, managed to fight off his attackers and flee.

You may have watched coverage of this on your local TV but I can assure you that the Zimbabwe Bulls*@t Corporation(ZBC) did not.

Please also forward this e - mail to everyone else that you can so that the truth can finally start getting out. And could the recipients also please give a copy of this to their newspapers as well. We are a minority and it is time the world started defending the fundamental human rights of all people not only the majority.
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