Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Commercial Farmers’ Union Oscar Award 2010 2





The family history of the second Oscar recipient spans a long period of farming in Africa that goes back many years.

He was born in 1932 and grew up on the family farm near Klerksdorp. His mother was a Kruger from Uitvlugt Farm on the Modder River in South Africa. The family has now been farming continuously on African soil for over 300 years. He is truly a white African.

The family farm was sold before he himself went farming. He decided to go to the army. He was a good sportsman and played cricket for Western Transvaal as well as being the number 2 fly half for the Western Transvaal. He also played polo for the army and started a law degree. Unfortunately, in a preview of things to come, the Nationalist Apartheid Government discriminated against him in a scandal that came from Parliament. He had the national press expose the discrimination. Though he was half Afrikaans, his name was not an Afrikaans one, and he was passed over because of it. He resigned at the rank of Captain in disgust. The discrimination issue was an issue that would follow him to Zimbabwe and bring him to make a historic stand against it.

Towards the end of his time in the army he married Angela Train. She was also a farmer’s daughter whose family has been farming in Africa for 150 years. His wife’s family came from missionary and farming stock and had been involved in giving Impolweni mission to the black Africans as a pilot resettlement project. They imported the first Jersey dairy cows into Natal over a century ago and the same Jersey blood line is still in the family.

After the army they both went saw milling before saving up enough money to buy a farm in Natal where they went dairy farming.

One of their great loves is conservation and wildlife. It was one of his early ambitions as a young boy to bring game back into an area. His father owned a ranch in the Rhodesian lowveld called Kayansee but he had sold this many years before when his mother became ill and his father, knowing the trials of the farming life, was trying to discourage him from going farming!

On the way back from a hunting trip to the Zambezi valley in 1973 he announced to his wife that they were going to sell their farm and go farming across the Limpopo.

In 1974 they moved with their young family and leased land near Banket before eventually finding a farm for sale in the Chegutu area. The farm was ideal for wildlife with water right the way through the middle of it. They bought it in 1975, when many people were starting to think about leaving the country as the war escalated. They took out a big loan that they spent most of the rest of their lives paying off.

Over the next few years they started stocking the farm with giraffe, eland, impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, sable and zebra. They even brought up nyala from Natal, 2000 km away. Long before most people were even thinking about wildlife conservation on the farms, in the middle of the war, he was part of forming the Wildlife Producers Association of Zimbabwe of which he became the first chairman when it was set up. He would eventually be on the circuit for the exclusive “Rovoss rail train shoot,” where bird shooters from around the world came to shoot game birds on their farm.

They decided to stay on in Zimbabwe after Independence and help build the new Zimbabwe. They bought the neighbouring farm to make the wildlife area viable and built a well known safari lodge called Biri River Safari lodge on the property. As an active hunter he was part of resurrecting the Hunters Association and became its first chairman. With a few other wildlife enthusiasts he re


opened the Zambezi valley for controlled hunting and conservation after the destruction that had taken place in the latter part of the war.

At the same time as growing 50 hectares of tobacco, up to 400 hectares of maize and Mashona/ Sussex cattle he was experimenting with mango growing. By importing carefully selected varieties they eventually developed the varieties that would best suit their area and the export markets. He became the first commercial mango grower in Zimbabwe and was brought on to the committee of the Southern African Mango Growers Association and represented Zimbabwe at various international mango symposiums. He became the biggest mango grower in Zimbabwe and also brought in citrus production. His pack shed was one of the first to be accredited by EUROPGAP for good agricultural practices that would assist with the export market.

Farming is also about building communities. He was on the board of Governors of Hartley School and was then on the first board of Governors that got Girls College going in Bulawayo. He and his wife have always been active in the church as well. His wife is a long standing “Esther” supporter involved with praying for the nation. She has led a Bible study group for many years and prayed into countless situations. He chaired the Mupfure River board and was a long standing member of it, using his skills to sort out disputes over the highly emotive issues that are brought into play when water is in short supply.

It is in latter years that he and his wife became so well known internationally. In 1999, after getting a certificate of no present interest from the government, he transferred the farm into the family company name. The “no interest” was not genuine. They have both seen all the game killed, their safari lodge burnt down, their daughter


inlaw and twins die from malaria brought in by the invaders, 120 cattle rustled, workers beaten, and family members beaten. He has also been beaten up on a few occasions trying to prevent poaching and other destructive activities.

In 2005, on seeing the indisputable discrimination that was taking place in the land reform programme, they brought an application to the High Court about the discrimination issue. Later that year amendment 17 to the constitution came into play and they decided to take this blatant disregard for the rule of law to the Supreme Court along with the Zimbabwe Governments


lack of any kind of compensation to those who were having their homes and livelihoods taken from them. They knew that they would lose in the Supreme Court because it was clear by then that the bench was stacked against them; but injustice has to be countered and they believed that God would open up a path to try to resolve issues in the international courts. They insisted on getting the very best lawyers and advocates; and went forward with the case not knowing how they would foot the bill because at that stage nobody wanted to support them.

Within a week of the hearing in the Supreme Court the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek opened for business. After the Zimbabwe Government set about prosecuting him for still being on his farm in October 2007, the way was paved to try to get relief in the SADC Tribunal.

They got the relief and subsequently other farmers joined their cases with his case in 2008. In an attempt to stop him from continuing with the case they were beaten up and abducted on the 29 June 2008 on the afternoon that President Mugabe was being sworn back into office. He was knocked unconscious and had 7 broken bones in his body and so could not sign the bit of paper that the thugs wanted him to sign to say that he would withdraw the case from the Tribunal. Eventually with guns to her head, a severely broken arm and terrible bruising, his wife was forced to sign it under duress. By Gods grace they survived the ordeal and the main case was heard in the SADC Tribunal 2 weeks later.

The Judgment on the 28 November 2008 was a historic judgment. His case succeeded on all counts. The foundation was laid for property rights, compensation, fair treatment before the law for all races and the rebuilding of Zimbabwe in the future. It is for this time that all of their 3 children and 6 grand


children remain in Zimbabwe. A documentary film has been made about his and his wife’s stand known as Mugabe and the White African. It has already won the world feature award at “silver docs,” the preeminent documentary film festival in the USA and it promises to go a long way in bringing the plight of Zimbabwean farmers and their workers on to the world stage.

It was clear that the current regime would not recognise a judgement so out of sink with its own nefarious ambitions and so when and his wife were jambanjad from their home on the farm in April 2009 they went back to the Tribunal and found the Zimbabwe Government in contempt of the SADC Tribunal in one of the most notable international judgements against any government around the world for several years.

He has not recovered from his beating and abduction but his and his wife’s courage and tenacity and perseverance in the face of terrible adversity has been tremendous. What they have achieved for Zimbabwe and indeed the whole of Southern Africa in setting an international precedent in property rights and the rights of white Africans in International Law will only be fully realised by most people in the years to come when we have a government that will have respect for the rule of law and the rights of all peoples within in Zimbabwe.

Ladies and Gentlemen, by now you know who our second recipient is. I call upon



Ambassador Xavier Marchal

to award the second farming Oscar for 2010 to




President’s Council 2010

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