SUSPECTED war veterans and Zanu PF loyalists have seized over 20 commercial farms in Mashonaland West in the past fortnight, amid reports that a countrywide new wave of farm invasions was looming ahead of a presidential election run-off between President Robert Mugabe and the MDCâ€™s Morgan Tsvangirai.
The most high-profile person to occupy a farm in Mashonaland West was the Reserve Bankâ€™s deputy governor Edward Mashiringwana. Last month Mashiringwana allegedly invaded a farm owned by South African farmer Louis Fick in the same province.
This was despite a Chinhoyi magistrateâ€™s court interdict barring the deputy central bank boss from occupying the property. Mashiringwana reportedly invaded Friedawill Farm in Lions Den, 20km west of Chinhoyi. Fick told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that Mashiringwana had seized his farm.
“Let me say this in short, our workers are being locked outside the farm and they are not being allowed access to the animals,” Fick said. “We have lost pigs and crocodiles. Mashiringwana â€” the deputy governor â€” is behind this.”
Reports from the farm have graphically described the squeals of piglets devoured by sows driven insane by lack of food and water. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which tried to take food and water to the farm was denied access.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Trevor Gifford told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that a group of white commercial farmers in Chegutu made reports to the police that war veterans and Zanu PF supporters have forcibly taken over their farms.
“We have reports that over 20 farms have been invaded,” Gifford said. “The owners made reports to the police, but they got no assistance.”
He alleged that the police displayed a lackadaisical attitude towards the invasions, which he claimed were also spreading to Mashonaland Central.
“The situation is so severe, police in Mashonaland West are reluctant to deal with the invasions,” Gifford said. “It is only in a few cases that the Police Support Unit reacted.”
Impeccable sources in the province said police officers were declining to enter their names in the Report Record Book (RRB) once a farmer made a report for fear of victimisation by their superiors.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvu-dzijena said he was not aware of the new wave of farm invasions.
“We are not aware of those (invasion) reports at the moment,” Bvudzijena said.
On why police officers were not writing their names on RRBs, Bvudzijena said it was an administrative issue that must be dealt with by a police station officer-in-charge.
However, he said with or without officersâ€™ names on the RRBs, the cases would be investigated.
Gifford alleged that a white couple in Chegutu was assaulted by Zanu PF youth militia on Monday after resisting the seizure of their farm and were later admitted at a private hospital in Harare.
By Bernard Mpofu