EXCLUSIVE: White Zim farmer nearly loses life as 'land grabbers allegedly shoot at him'

2017-08-25 06:15
Picture: Frank Chikowore, News24

Picture: Frank Chikowore, News24

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Harare – President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party youths this week grabbed a farm from a white commercial farmer just outside Chinhoyi town, as another farmer whose Rusape property was seized two months ago nearly lost his life when his vehicle was allegedly shot at by the new settlers.

Douglas Bruce told News24 that his property situated in Lions Den, about 25km outside Chinhoyi, was grabbed by the ruling party youths.

"The youths have started dividing the property amongst themselves and some of them are putting up some dwellings there," said Bruce.

A prominent Zanu-PF activist who is among the invaders, Shylock Tembelani, said most youths had no access to land hence they decided to grab Bruce’s farm.

"It is unthinkable that a white man can have vast land when most of the indigenous people do not even have a square metre of land to build houses. President Mugabe wants the majority to have land, hence we have taken this action," said Tembelani.

Heavily armed police 

Mugabe told his supporters at a rally held in Marondera, about 80 kilometers east of the capital Harare in June that all remaining white-owned commercial farms should be repossessed to pave way for youths and ordinary Zimbabweans who had no access to land.

Following Mugabe’s remarks, a Rusape farmer Robert Smart was evicted from his maize and tobacco growing Lesbury Estates farm by heavily armed police and hordes of Zanu-PF youths to pave way for a top cleric, Trevor Manhanga, who was linked to Mugabe’s party.

Smart’s son, Darren, told News24 that armed men fired live ammunition at their vehicle when his family tried to return to the farm this week on Monday.

"We discovered that they (Manhanga and armed people who grabbed the farm) had no offer letters from lands ministry but Charles Mujati and other armed people who are illegally occupying the farm used shotguns and a 303 rifle to shoot our vehicle when we tried to get back to our property," said Darren. "Luckily they missed the target otherwise we could have been dead."

News24 failed to get a comment from either Mujati or Manhanga.

Chaotic land reforms 

Darren said that a report was made to Rusape police station on Monday after the incident but the police were yet to take any action.

Following his forceful eviction from Lesbury Estates, Smart engaged authorities in Harare but nothing had materialised thus far. 

The current land grabs were happening at a time when a group of white commercial farmers who lost their properties at the height of chaotic land reforms embarked on by the Mugabe administration in 2000 had initiated legal proceedings under the Finance and Investment Protocol of the Southern African Development Community to seek justice and compensation.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe,  more than 4 000 white farmers and their employees were displaced during the so-called "fast-track land reform programme".

Some economists blamed the chaotic agrarian reforms for Zimbabwe’s economic downturn. 

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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