Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Farm attacks on the rise again

Farm attacks on the rise again

By Alex Bell
24 March 2011

Attacks on the remaining handful of commercial farmers in Zimbabwe are once 
again on the rise, as ZANU PF’s election campaign continues to intensify.

Most recently, Chegutu farmer Bruce Campbell has been fighting off land 
invaders for several days. Details remain scarce but it is understood that a 
mob of land invaders have been trying to force him off his property this 

Campbell’s father Mike, and brother-in-law Ben Freeth, led a groundbreaking 
legal challenge against Robert Mugabe’s violent land seizures in the 
regional human rights Tribunal in 2008. The court ruled in the farmers’ 
favour, saying that Mugabe’s land-grab campaign was unlawful. But the ruling 
has done nothing to protect the remaining commercial farming community in 
Zimbabwe, with Mugabe’s regime openly snubbing the rulings of the court.

John Worsley-Worswick from Justice for Agriculture (JAG) told SW Radio 
Africa on Thursday the current threats and ongoing ‘jambanjas’ against 
farmers are linked to talk of an upcoming election. He explained how “it has 
always been a trend in the past in ZANU PF’s election campaign to start 
grabbing properties.”

“There’s no reason to believe that it will be any different now, in fact it 
is likely to be worse,” Worsley-Worswick said.

The JAG official explained how only about 100 original title holders are 
still on their farms, while a majority of working farmers are leasing 
properties. Along with other observers he feels that a portion of the 
farmers have been deliberately left alone by land invaders, in preparation 
for ZANU PF’s election campaign.

“There’s always a tremendous amount of political mileage with white farmers 
being on these farms,” Worsley-Worswick said, adding: “It is one way of 
feeding the patronage machine in an election, and it is what we are seeing 

Meanwhile an elderly couple who own a small farm in Somabuhla, have been 
forced to pack up their belongings and flee the property, despite numerous 
court orders meant to protect them. Philip and Ellen Hapelt have been under 
threat from local MP Jabulani Mangena, who has led a campaign of harassment, 
vandalism and violence against the farmers since late 2009.

Many years ago the Hapelts voluntarily gave up the majority of their land 
for the sake of ‘reform’, under an agreement that allowed them to remain on 
their homestead with a small portion of farming land. They have two court 
orders that entitle them to live on this farm, without fear of invasion or 
persecution, but they were forced to seek two successive evictions orders in 
an effort to get Mangena’s men off their land last year. Mangena has openly 
disregarded the rulings of the courts and has previously threatened the 
Hapelts with violence.

Last week Thursday, Mr Hapelt was forced to lock himself in his farm house 
while a gang of about fifteen youths rampaged around the perimeter fence. 
The youths had accompanied Mangena to the property, along with a delegation 
from the Ministry of Lands, who insisted they had an eviction notice for the 
Hapelts. The eviction notice, signed by Joseph Shoko from the Lands 
Committee, was a poor photocopy of an old notice for another farmer. That 
farmer’s name had been crossed out, with Mr Hapelt’s name written over it.

Mangena then told Hapelt he would arrive at the farm the next day to 
forcefully remove him and his cattle from the farm, adding that if his men 
decide to get violent, “he would look the other way.” Mangena also insisted 
that the eviction notice he carried superceded all previous court orders 
which stated that the Hapelts are the rightful owners of the property.

Last Friday, as promised, Mangena and his gang of youths arrived back at the 
farm and once again besieged the farm house. Mangena said he had given the 
Hapelts plenty of time to move and he would no longer wait for them. Mrs 
Hapelt, who was in Gweru when she heard the news, immediately called the 
police, who were dismissive and refused to help her. The police eventually 
went to the Grasslands farm but returned to Gweru, saying they could not do 
anything to help. The Hapelts, under duress and fearing for their safety, 
eventually agreed to start vacating the farm.

Mangena meanwhile has insisted that the Hapelts attend a meeting this Friday 
at the Lands office in Gweru. He warned them that if they did not show up 
for the meeting the consequences would be ‘dire’. The Hapelts have said that 
they are not sure why they have to attend this meeting but they are fearful 
of what may happen if they don’t make an appearance.

Meanwhile, the Hapelts’ daughter has been trying to get intervention from 
the South African Embassy, because Hapelt is a South Africa citizen and 
Zimbabwe and South Africa have signed agreements that are supposed to 
protect citizens. But the Embassy has so far done absolutely nothing to help 
the family, only expressing their sympathies about the situation.

SW Radio Africa has been trying to contact the Embassy, with little success.


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