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.***

Lest we forget


30TH AUGUST 2011

As time goes by it becomes increasingly difficult to remember and even record the past. For many of us the past is too painful, and we really do just want to get on with life or what is left of it. However we do need closure and compensation / restitution for the wrongs of the past.

The problem is how do I condense what is a lifetime into a short story. So here we go, and I hope my contribution will spark others to tell it as it is.

I was taught as a youngster to never steal, tell the truth however painful and respect my elders which I have tried to do all my life.

As a young man I got involved in farming politics, and was elected to the Lomagundi CFU branch in the early 1970s. I was elected to the CFU council in 1979, and served my fellow farmer for many years. I was particularly outspoken on farming affairs, and remember giving a number of politicians a lashing when I believed us farmers were not getting a fair deal.

In 1980, Mugabe won the war and took over Zimbabwe / Rhodesia. Dennis Norman as President of CFU was invited to become Minister of Agriculture. Council approved, and my job as Chairman of Lomagundi Branch was to set up a meeting for farmers to meet with Mugabe. This was done in Chinhoyi, and was the first meeting held face to face with the enemy. These were very nervous days as none of us knew where our future was heading.

Mugabe spoke well [as he always does], and told us to get on with our job as farmers, obey the laws of the country, and we were welcome to become part of the new Zimbabwe. People like me elected to stay and make a go of it. We emigrated from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. Those who did not like the new order [ mainly qualified people.] packed their bags and left for greener pastures.

It is important to remind ourselves and the rest of the world – WE STOLE



I make no apology for the bold print, because as we all know Zimbabwe’s success came on the back of farmers getting stuck in and doing what they are good at – FARMING. –

Where did we go wrong, and here there have been many who have accused us of arrogance and many other things. I do not agree because without exception, as farmers we were continuously improving our businesses for all and the betterment of Zimbabwe.

The mistakes we made were plenty, loving our country, and making it a better place for all. Without fear of contradiction Zimbabwe had the best qualified labour


Force in Africa, and although not perfect was always being improved. We had good race relations, and I am proud to say I was part of it.

So my story is really quite short. I believed I was bullet proof, why ? because I produced food, and had my farm fully developed. Our workers were highly motivated and efficient, and like myself not political – I will comment on this topic further. – I was involved in agricultural developments right up to my eviction. In hind site, yes I was wrong and stupid. I had very little money out of the country. I loved what I was doing, my son was with me and the farm was going forward. Quite frankly we were happy with what we were doing – FARMING. –

We knew there were rough days ahead, but we thought we could ride it out. Many discussions were held with the work force, and there was never a major disagreement on how to cope with the problem ahead, so when the trouble started together we tried to sort it out.

To my Black brothers I feel for you, and although they were all paid their full entitlements, that has long garn thanks to the inflation created by the Mugabe regime. My most recent trip back to the farm in March 2011 confirms the farm is derelict and mostly unused. The farm compound is falling down. Once electrified with running water, it is now overgrown. Other than a few of my workers, who were fed with Mbungie and booze, the ones who have not died are still around, and came to pass their respects. I have to say it brought a tear to my eye; to say I am heart broken is an understatement. Having being born on the farm, with many of my workers has left a strong bond which I had forgotten in the war we have all been subjected to. I am an African for goodness sake, but white, is that my fault !?


During the eviction process, like most farmers we were subject to constant harassment and beatings. I suppose I got away lightly, but spent many days at the police camp, magistrate’s court and High Court. It is really too painful to go through the process, but I do recall one particular night getting a distressed phone call from my wife while I was out. We did not have a security fence, and my wife was being threatened by a war vet accusing us for stealing his bicycle [ he was accompanied by the police !] She stuck a loaf of bread in his face saying by kicking us off would deny them bread as we produced a large percentage of the countries wheat crop. The next day we were summoned to the police camp and spent the day trying to keep out of gaol for defacing the staple diet.

They had successfully stoped us farming on my son’s farm, but the end came when Judge BEN HLATSHWAYO arrived with his caravan and took over the farm shed. Every time we tried to farm we were stopped. They then burned out the Tee Tree plantation, and ploughed up the pastures. The farms had all be allocated to the top brass, but I suppose with a little justice, the Judge has since been kicked off, and my farm has been taken by the First lady – Grace. –

Like most farmers we have been to court won the cases, but lost everything.


I suppose we were lucky to get a container of our most treasured items off the farm. However like most farmers we have lost our LIFE, PENSION and ANIMALS.

Having thought I could make it, I have to say I have failed. Like most people my age it is not easy to start all over again, and with the world / Zimbabwe in continuous financial turmoil it has not been easy to balance the budget.

As a farmer it is very difficult to get employed especially when you are over 60. Although we have not given up trying it takes money to survive. I thought I was coming to Australia to retire, but that is not to be. The hurt of what I left behind has been too much, but as time goes by one gets over it and one plucks up the courage to go back and have a look at what it was. So we need to tell our story to the world, we stole nothing.

In summary my plea to those who are better scribes than me, is to keep Zimbabwe’s plight on the front page. We owe it to ourselves and our black brothers who have been beaten into the ground by the tyrant called “MUGABE.”

We need to keep the truths, which are being published from time to time in the faces of all. It is no good saying “ I told you so.” We just need to keep on the front page, and keep exposing Mugabe and his henchmen

Yes Zimbabwe has not got oil, but it does have minerals. Take heart with what has happened in Egypt and Libya. Mugabe and his henchmen have a fortune out there, tell the world loudly. One day we will get the money back to Zimbabwe where it belongs.

In my humble opinion all peace loving Zimbabweans need to put their hands up and show the world that the day of Dictators cannot be tolerated any longer. Zimbabwe does need the support of the free world, and South Africa, without them Mugabe will win the day. Furthermore countries that prop up regimes for their own self interests need to be exposed. After all they are the ones that keep the dictators in power. A close look at who is in Zimbabwe doing what shows up some interesting faces.

We had 120 full time employees on the farms with their families bring the total to +- 1000 people at the time of our eviction. A head count in March was less than 100 people + the fat cats. If that’s what Mugabe calls redressing the crimes of the past, I don’t. – My case rests.

Cheers for now. Vernon Nicolle.


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