Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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South Africa: Country Under Pressure to Take Action on Zimbabwe Land Reform

South Africa: Country Under Pressure to Take Action on Zimbabwe Land Reform


SW Radio Africa (London)

Alex Bell

20 July 2010


The South African government is coming under increasing pressure to take action against Robert Mugabe and his land ‘reform’ programme, after more South African farmers were arrested in Zimbabwe last week.

The farmers, Gary Godfrey and Nigel Fawcett, together with Fawcett’s manager Russel McCormack, were arrested in Nyamandlovu after more than a month of police harassment and intimidation. The farmers are being charged under the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act for occupying so called ‘State Land’ illegally. Both Godfrey and Fawcett have been arrested before on the same charges, which were dropped.

According to the Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance in Zimbabwe, the harassment against the farmers began in late May, with police cutting off water supplies to Godfrey’s Highfields Farm. The move left all of Godfrey’s staff and their families without water, as well as his livestock. The police also stopped the staff from working, resulting in none of the livestock being fed for several days. At the same time, police went to Fawcett’s Kennellys Farm nearby and also instructed the staff there to cease work. It was only after the intervention of the SPCA that staff on both properties were allowed back on the farms, and the livestock received water and food.

An arrest warrant was issued for the farmers, who did not return to their properties. In retaliation, police banned the sale of any produce from the farms, in what the Commercial Farmers Alliance said was to “bankrupt them into surrender.”

“In an act amounting to incitement to commit theft, the staff at Highfields have just been authorised by the police to sell the farm produce on condition they do not hand the proceeds over to Mr. Godfrey,” the Farmers Alliance said.

The farmers eventually handed themselves over to police last week and were immediately jailed at gunpoint.

“Initially the Lands Department stated that they had instructions that only six white farmers were to be left farming in each district. The rest had to go. Now it appears that this partial ethnic cleansing has been sharpened and refined to leave only two white farmers per district,” said the Farmers Alliance.

The treatment of the South African citizens is worrying and the police have refused to bring them before the Magistrates court. In a move described as “vindictive,” Assistant Inspector Monyera claimed there were no dockets for the two and insisted they should remain in custody. Also, when the farmer’s legal representative asked Monyera whether Debbie McCormack could return to the farm to collect clothing and food for her jailed husband he merely said “I am not hearing you.”

The South African government has previously been urged, to no avail, to intervene on behalf of its citizens facing prosecution and harassment in Zimbabwe. South African Civil rights initiative AfriForum is now seeking legal action to force its government to protect the farmers. AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel told SW Radio Africa that the government has “demonstrated a lack of commitment to its own citizens by turning a blind eye to what is happening in Zimbabwe.” Kriel also expressed anger that Robert Mugabe was invited to attend the football World Cup final earlier this month, and yet no measures have been taken to protect South African farmers in the country.

“Rolling out the red carpet for Mugabe sends out the wrong message that the (South African) government doesn’t have a problem with what is going on,” Kriel said.

Kriel explained that AfriForum is exploring a number of legal routes to force the government to intervene, including possible court orders listing the government’s commitments and holding them to account. Kriel explained that political will was needed to ensure that South Africans in Zimbabwe are properly protected.

The AfriForum head referred specifically to the case of a German citizen in Zimbabwe, whose property was invaded late last month. His government threatened to withdraw aid to Zimbabwe unless the land invaders were dealt with. The government immediately responded and the land invaders were ordered to leave the farm. AfriForum’s Kriel said this would be possible for South African citizens too, if the government demonstrated commitment to its citizens.

Copyright © 2010 SW Radio Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (


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