As Zimbabwe’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, moves to seize up to 90 percent of white-owned farms in the country, one white female farmer recounts the violence and harassment Zimbabwean farmers have endured in recent months.
Mugabe’s action against white farmers began in early 2000 with farm invasions by so-called “war veterans,” who are not officially government agents. The move this week by the strongman’s government, however, is the most aggressive thus far. According to the Times of London, the government plans to evict over 4,000 farmers in Zimbabwe. This latest action in Mugabe’s “land redistribution” scheme is likely to cause the failure of this year’s food crop, raising the specter of famine across the nation.
Cathy Buckle has compiled the stories of many of her fellow farmers in a book on the Zimbabwe land grabs entitled, “African Tears: The Zimbabwe Land Invasions.”
“For 18 months, farmers across the country have been pushed to the most extreme limits of their patience,” Buckle told WorldNetDaily. “Politicians and ‘war veterans’ have tried everything to get white farmers to react violently to squatters invading their land. War veterans [allegedly soldiers who fought in Mugabe’s Bush War against the pro-West regime of Ian Smith] have murdered, raped, tortured, looted and burned – all without reaction from farmers. … They tried to get farmers out of their homes by putting them under siege. In some instances, farmers were kept prisoner in their homes for six days. That, too, failed to elicit a violent response from farmers, and so they stepped it up to the level it has now reached.”
Buckle said Mugabe’s war veterans cut telephone lines and broke into the Kwekwe farmhouse of 76-year-old widower Ken Corbett.
“They attacked him with an axe. Mr. Corbett suffered severe brain damage and died. A few days later, a group of 40 more war veterans stormed the homestead of a Chinoyi farmer. When they attempted to break the door down to get inside, the farmer, Mr. Barklay, called for help from neighbors and police on the farm radio. A group of farmers arrived to help, pushed their way through the mob, trying to get to the aid of Mr. Barklay. A tussle ensued between the farmers and the thugs, and there were injuries on both sides. The police arrived and told all the farmers to go and report the incident at the station. About 17 farmers did so and were all arrested. None of the war veterans were arrested or detained.”
Buckle explained that another group of farmers went to the police station in an attempt to mediate and ascertain the condition of their colleagues and that they, too, were arrested. The 23 farmers appeared in the Chinoyi Magistrates Court a few days after they were arrested on charges of public violence. One farmer collapsed in the dock and was taken to the hospital. Another was discharged, but further proceedings were adjourned as mobs chanted outside and the magistrate remanded the remaining 21 men into custody. The next day, the 21 farmers again appeared in court. They were denied bail and again remanded into custody.
According to Buckle, a senior police spokesman said that there was not enough manpower to secure the farmers’ safety.
“A 76-year-old doctor, his son and three of the farmers’ wives went to the police station to offer medical support and blankets to the incarcerated men,” Buckle explained. “The doctor was attacked at the station gate, in front of uniformed police details, by thugs wielding a bicycle chain. The doctor’s glasses were smashed, and he sustained severe internal and external damage to his eye. Police inside the office refused to accept a Report of Assault and refused to provide a Medical Report Form. The office then filled up with thugs, and two of the farmers’ wives were pushed heavily. When the women decided their lives were in danger, they fled. …
“The tires on their vehicles had been deflated, but they managed to get to safety in the town. Later that day, mobs of thugs went on the rampage through the small town of Chinoyi, targeting white people. There were more than a dozen assaults, including: a 72-year-old woman assaulted whilst standing in a queue in the post office; a 45-year-old man was chased down the street, kicked, beaten, punched and stabbed. He needed 20 stitches. A 50-year-old man was beaten and whipped with sticks and truncheons. A woman in her 40s was punched in the face as she left the police station after completing a vehicle registration.”
Buckle explained that looting and thievery are commonplace when bands of men attack white-owned farms.
“A farmer, his wife, their teen-age daughter and 9-month-old baby were barricaded into the farmhouse by thugs. Seven hours later, this farmer and 19 others in the area fled their properties. Thugs then broke into a number of these homes and loaded up furniture and personal belongings. Official estimates say that as many as 10,000 farm workers and their dependents have been displaced because of the evacuation. Violence and looting spread to neighboring farming areas of Mhangura and Doma, and a number of farmers have evacuated their properties fearing for their own safety.”
“There is 60 percent unemployment in Zimbabwe. Around six out of every 10 people will climb on the looting bandwagon. About six out of 10 people will take the law into their own hands. With all of the horrors … and those I mention are only a fraction, Zimbabweans have not given up. We have not thronged border posts and airports to get out.”
Despite what Zimbabwean farmers have gone through in recent months, Buckle is resolute.
“For 18 months, we have held our heads up with pride and dignity,” Buckle said, “and we must find a way of doing this again now.”
According to the Times report, Mugabe’s decree is seen as his final act in ending any sort of white presence on the farms of Zimbabwe.