Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Border Timbers invaded by ZANU-PF “settlers”

Border Timbers invaded by ZANU-PF “settlers”

By Tererai Karimakwenda
10 January, 2012

Zimbabwe’s leading timber producer, Border Timbers, is reportedly struggling 
to cope with ongoing invasions by groups of “settlers” who are not only 
destroying the soil but are ignoring bilateral investment protection 
agreements, intended to protect the German owners.

The police have made no arrests and management is afraid to anger the 
illegal settlers, who are alleged to be mostly ZANU PF supporters. SW Radio 
Africa spoke to managing director Doug Dell who denied reports of recent 
invasions. “We have no idea how that got into the press. There have been no 
new invasions,” Dell insisted.

But a villager in the Chimanimani area said there are new invaders “nearly 
every week”. Speaking in Shona he said manager Dell fears for his life and 
his job, and is trying to maintain good relations with the settlers.

The villager also described how the settlers are planting crops, especially 
maize, on very steep land in the mountainous terrain. “Unoto rime wakamira, 
wakatarisa gomo,” (you actually till the land standing up, facing the hill.)

Environmentalists have warned how dangerous this is because the soil washes 
away when it rains since it is loosened. Soil has been washed away in many 
parts of Zimbabwe where trees have been cut for firewood, killing any hope 
of food production for future generations. Once soil has gone, it never 
comes back.

On their website Border Timbers claim that in all their operations they are 
guided by an “Environmental Management Policy” that ensures minimal damage 
to the environment, a practice that is clearly now beyond their ability to 
Border Timbers is owned by the German von Pezold family, who initiated two 
legal cases against the Zimbabwean government back in 2010, after gangs of 
ZANU-PF invaded and occupied their land for three weeks.

The armed gangs looted over $1 million worth of crops and the government 
only ordered them to leave after Germany threatened to withhold aid to 
Zimbabwe. The two countries signed a bilateral investment promotion and 
protection agreement (BIPPA) which is supposed to protect property owned by 
German citizens.

Last month two lodges on the Hippo Valley Estates in the Lowveld were 
illegally invaded by war vets and ZANU PF supporters have occupied council 
owned buildings in Harare and other urban areas.

The few remaining white commercial farmers are under constant threat and 
this all characterises the ongoing lawlessness that the coalition government 
has failed to bring to an end.


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