Fresh wave of evictions hits Mash West, Masvingo

A FRESH wave of evictions has hit the country and further disruptions are in the pipeline with Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces being the worst affected areas.


Nearly a dozen of the few remaining white commercial farmers a

re threatened with eviction before the start of the cropping season due in four weeks’ time.

Farm evictions, that government officially said were over, have resurfaced with two white farmers being served with summons to appear in court next week for defying orders to vacate their farms.


Government has also served eviction notices on an additional 50 farmers across the country.


The fresh wave is premised on the provisions of the newly-promulgated Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2006 which stipulates that anyone on any land that received a Section 5 notice sometime in the last six years, will have 45 days to get out of his house and wind up his farming operation. If he does not, and he has no lease or offer letter, he will face criminal penalties that will involve up to two years’ imprisonment.


Endorsement of the Bill would automatically push out all white farmers by virtue of not having any lease or offer letters.


Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent established that Dana Neil of Templecombe Farm and G Terblanche of Dandazi Estate would appear in court on October 3 for failing to observe eviction notices served on them on June 14.


Their 90-day notices expired on September 14 and they were expected to have left the farms. Both farmers are prominent producers of wheat, maize and tobacco. Terblanche is rated one of the biggest maize producers in the country.


CFU officials confirmed that two farmers would next Tuesday appear in the Karoi magistrates court.

“Two farmers have been issued with summons to appear in court on Tuesday at 8am,” the official said.


“They are being accused of ignoring eviction notices that were served on them. But the tragedy is that the two are amongst the best tobacco and cereals producers. One of them had just delivered 1 000 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board and now he is going to be prosecuted for doing that.”


Reports from other provinces show that pressure is mounting on up to 50 farmers to give up their properties.


“There are farmers facing threat of evictions throughout the country, from Mvurwi, Centenary, Chipinge, Rusape and the Eastern Lowveld,” one farmer said.


An estimated 400 large-scale white commercial farmers remain in Zimbabwe after the land reform programme drove the majority off the land.


Sources said in Masvingo provincial governor Willard Chiwewe two weeks ago wrote to a number of white farmers ordering them to surrender their land and equipment to the government.


The move deals a deadly blow to prospects of increased production in the 2006/7 season.
 
“Your farm has been acquired by the government and we therefore request you to wind up your business before the start of the rainy season,” Chiwewe wrote to Ronny Sparrow, one of the remaining farmers in Masvingo province.


“You are advised to comply with this order since you risk being forcibly removed if you fail to comply. We also take this opportunity to tell you that you are not allowed to move out with any of your farming equipment.”


Under the government’s Constitutional Amendment 17, a farmer cannot challenge in court the expropriation of his land by the government and faces jail for removing equipment from the farm.

Sources said apart from Sparrow, at least another 10 white farmers have also received similar letters from Chiwewe notifying them to vacate their properties.


One farmer from Masvingo, who identified himself as Mike Nickson, described the situation as unbearable, adding that farmers had no option but “to surrender our properties in order to save our lives”.


Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono as well as Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru have on separate occasions this year publicly called for an end to farm evictions, saying it was time to consolidate the government’s controversial land reforms by increasing food production.


But disturbances have continued on farms with powerful government officials who already own more than one farm being accused of seizing more land from whites. — Staff Writer.

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