Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Move to defuse land-grab row

Move to defuse land-grab row

SUNDAY TIMES CORRESPONDENT | 16 October, 2011 02:45

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is this week due to confront President 
Robert Mugabe to try to defuse a potentially major diplomatic row after the 
South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, Vusi Mavimbela, attacked Harare 
viciously over lawlessness.

Speaking after meeting Tsvangirai last week, Mavimbela blasted the Zimbabwe 
government and police for failing to rein in rogue Zanu-PF militants who 
have been wantonly invading farms owned by South Africans in violation of 
the Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement (Bippa) signed between 
Pretoria and Harare in 2009.

Diplomats say Mavimbela’s condemnation could only have been sanctioned by 
South African President Jacob Zuma.

In the past few months, militants loyal to Mugabe have been invading the few 
remaining white-owned farms, including those owned by South Africans, 
although they are supposed to be protected under Bippa.

Mugabe and the police have failed to take action and prevent the lawless 
invasion of the farms, leading to the angry words from Pretoria directed at 

Mavimbela did not mince his words in appealing to Tsvangirai for 
intervention and also asked the SA government to assist as they had failed 
at diplomatic level.

Recently South African farmers Koos Smith of De Rust farm and Tiennie van 
Rensburg of Rueben Farm in Nyazura were evicted by a mob loyal to Mugabe and 
Zanu-PF, leaving them destitute.

Tsvangirai, through his spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka, told the Sunday Times 
that he would take up the issue with Mugabe.

“The prime minister will personally table the issue of lawlessness raised by 
the South African ambassador as this is a serious issue that needs urgent 
attention. He is taking the issue seriously, as this is what has poisoned 
the political environment in Zimbabwe. This is the culture of impunity that 
has to be stopped,” said Tamborinyoka.

The meeting is expected to be held this week.

Mavimbela fired the salvo two weeks after Zuma said his country would not 
grab land in the violent and bloody manner witnessed in Zimbabwe at the 
start of the last decade.

Mavimbela said the militants appeared to be protected by police and said the 
lawlessness in Zimbabwe had resulted in most South African companies failing 
to invest in the country for fear of losing their money.

“One of the issues we raised with the prime minister was our concern about 
the manner in which farm invasions still take place in this country. We have 
a number of South African farmers who were evicted from their farms 
recently. We believe that the process that was followed is not anything that 
we can be proud of,” said Mavimbela.

“Some of the things seem to be happening not only to the South African 
companies, but also to the farmers, and this has the possibility of 
violating the agreement. We raised that concern,” Mavimbela said.


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