HomeLettersRespect for property rights can save economy

Respect for property rights can save economy

I BELIEVE that we were on the eve of another dramatic move in the legal revolution that continues to destroy commercial agriculture and Zimbabwe.

In September 2005 Zanu PF MPs put in place amendment number 17 which acquired all w

hite owned land for the state and gave no right to challenge this in court. No Zanu PF parliamentarian voted against this act.

At the end of 2006 Zanu PF MPs put in place the Consequential Provisions Act which said that all those farmers still in their homes and farming without permission from the Minister of State Security would be committing a crime and would face jail. No Zanu PF MPs voted against this Act either. And neither have any of them got the the neccesary “permission” for white farmers to continue.

In October 2007 the Zimbabwe Republic Police initiated prosecutions under this Consequential Provisions Act; and to date approximately 150 farmers are in the process of being prosecuted for still being on their farms. Any farmer without an offer letter, lease or permit is on the wrong side of the law. The 150 farmers currently being prosecuted will, we can be sure, be expanded.

In January 2008 our Supreme Court upheld the law that the Zanu PF MPs put in place expressly saying that the Bill of Rights and right to protection of the law no longer exists in Zimbabwe for farmers or anyone else that the parliamentarians care to make unjust laws against.

Sometime between now and March 29 I believe white farmers are going to be thrown into jail again for continuing to commit the crime of being in their homes and farming.

Are our agricultural leaders going to make the same mistake as they did in 2002 and take no legal steps to ensure their members are protected from the effects of being on the wrong side of the law: jail and dispossession?

In 2002, Colin Cloete and his CFU council made a concious decision not to protect their members. They were apparently assured, like Piet Retief, that they would not be harmed.

As a direct result of that unfortunate decision the vast majority of farmers were dispossessed of everything that they had ever worked for. Many were incarcerated. Their workers lost their jobs and their homes and the country went hungry. The economy collapsed. Roads, schools, hospitals, electricity supplies, water delivery systems collapsed and continue to collapse today.

The effect of destroying title has been felt by all. The engine of the bus called Zimbabwe has been stripped, sold off or vandalised by the driver; and the people of Zimbabwe have had to get out and walk. Without property rights, the engine that drove the economy can not function.

Ben Freeth,

By e-mail.

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