'The Only Thing White Farmers Understand!'
Chilling accounts of a new wave of farm invasions
Hopes that the signing of the power-sharing agreement would result in an end to the forcible evictions of white farmers in Zimbabwe have been dashed with the news that the reverse is true. Taking advantage of the current stalemate between the ruling parties, a fresh wave of farm invasions has been launched.
It is currently believed that another 35 white-owned farms have been grabbed in the last two weeks, usually by combined bands of Zanu-PF militia and so-called War Veterans. In many cases the farms are taken over and stripped of everything of value, before the gangs move on to another target.
The President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), Trevor Gifford, told me that things were getting progressively worse. "There are a lot of new invasions," he said, "the worst areas being Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, West and Central." The invasions had been regularly reported to police, but no action was taken.
One white farmer is recounting an incident at his farm which left him staring down the barrel of a gun wielded by a self-proclaimed top official of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Mr. Filippo Marucchi-Chierro, originally from Italy, who farms at Trelawne but has never been listed for acquisition, described how a Mr. Andrew Muzonzini, with an ID number 63-447595B-18, describing himself as the Political Commissar of the CIO, drove onto his property on September 12.
After an argument over whether and how Mr. Marucchi-Chierro should move out, Mr. Muzonzini shouted: "The only thing you guys (white farmers) will understand is if we use this."
He then produced an AK-47 weapon from his vehicle, and pointed it at the farmer.
Mr. Marucchi-Chierro is still on his farm, but for how long remains questionable. Meanwhile the latest invasions are certain to disrupt preparations for the new rainy season, now only weeks away - this in a country where food shortages remain acute, and every farmer needs to produce as much as possible.
Another farmer I spoke to, Mr. Swan Hurbbet, had this to say: "Invading farms in Zimbabwe has ceased to be an event of our time. It is now a tradition, passed down from one generation to another."