The Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe
ISSUED BY: President Deon Theron
6 November 2009
The Escalation of Violence on Commercial Farms
The Commercial Farmers Union is deeply concerned about the increased onslaught against its members, employees and livestock, and the catastrophic impact this will have on the ability of the nation to feed itself in the 2009/2010 season.
Many of our members and their employees have been assaulted, had their belongings seized and stolen, and been forced to watch as their homes and worker villages have been burnt to the ground. Police reaction has been limited, slow and frequently biased against our members. In the majority of cases there has been no response at all because the deliberately orchestrated violence has been classified as “political”. As I speak, another of our elderly members is fighting for his life in hospital after he and his wife were viciously attacked.
Farm employees are also under constant threat and, when the farmer is not present, the attorney general’s office frequently targets the employees. A significant number have been prosecuted and even imprisoned, resulting in their being unable to produce desperately needed food for a food-insecure nation heavily dependent for the last decade on food aid. For a country that prior to the land invasions was not only food secure but a producer of food for the region and a highly respected international exporter, the situation is shameful.
We currently have over 150 productive farmers targeted and prosecuted by the attorney general’s office for still being on their farms. We see dairy farmers, tobacco farmers, wheat farmers, maize farmers - in fact every category of farmer throughout the country being victimised and prosecuted currently in the magistrates’ courts.
In addition to these illegal prosecutions, we have beneficiaries of “offer letters” taking the law into their own hands and farming operations continue to be violently disrupted.
Animals too have not been spared. They are being stolen, slaughtered, snared, hamstrung and axed. Thousands have inhumanely been denied food and water for more than a week at a time, with many dying or eating their young in their desperate efforts to survive.
The difficulties faced by the SPCA and other concerned organisations have been significant and the fear factor remains high. Tragically, they have not been able to save many of the animals suffering appalling levels of abuse and neglect at the hands of the perpetrators. We have written to various ministries, including the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Lands, seeking dialogue to stabilise the situation and protect our livestock, but have not even received a reply.
The summer cropping season is upon us and the situation is extremely serious. As commercial farmers we are being prevented from producing crops, and the highly productive farms that have been acquired by the government are producing either very little or nothing.
Zimbabwe has been warned continuously that the beneficiaries of international food aid should be those that are most deserving, notably regions affected by severe drought conditions, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, global warming and other natural disasters. Justifying massive shipments of food aid to countries whose governments destroy their population’s ability to feed themselves is proving to be increasingly difficult.
As a nation we are in turmoil. We have been operating under exceptionally difficult conditions: a divided government, no access to lines of credit, the selective application of the law, and non-compliance to High Court and SADC Tribunal Court rulings. We are uncertain of what the future holds for us as a nation, and to compound this we are facing a serious looming shortage of food as farmers continue to be prosecuted, persecuted and prevented from farming.
We welcome the news of the re-engagement of the partners in the transitional government.
On behalf of our members, our employees and the animals – which are totally dependent on us for their welfare - we once again call upon our government to resolve the current crisis.
Furthermore, we call for clarification on all of the issues we have raised and trust that we will not be victimised for expressing our concern.
As citizens of this country we seek peace, stability and a future for everyone and for our children who have suffered deeply as a result of the ongoing turmoil and trauma.
Commercial Farmers Union
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