We are concerned by the possibility of putting in jeopardy the lives of all Zimbabwean people (including our members) by sacrificing food self sufficiency for possible political gains.
The speech to the Zanu PF youth may provide fuel for further politically- motivated violence and disturbances on commercial farms at a time where peace and stability are required to ensure confidence and increased agricultural production in the current summer cropping season.
We believe these remarks are contrary to the spirit and tenor of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The president is reported to have urged “former” commercial farmers to embrace land reform. And further goes on to state: “Once people have offer letters and they are valid, that’s it. The farm is not yours any more. Please don’t resist. I am saying please, please but that will stop.
“If we hear about any resistance, we will stop pleading. I will just send the police to drive them away. If they thought they would be saved by the inclusive government, kunyeperwa ikoko!”
The CFU would like to place on record that farmers have complied with the criteria set out by the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and resettlement in that applications have been made to continue farming and occupation of their farms.
To date, regrettably, government has not responded to the numerous applications which were made.
It appears that government does not accept the legal rights of skilled commercial farmers, the majority of whom are also Zimbabwean citizens who bought land after Independence (as opposed to being neo-colonialist British).
Their land has been acquired in an arbitrary manner by the state and they are now excluded from being allowed to use their wide experience, knowledge and skills for the benefit of all Zimbabwean people.
The true legal interpretation of an offer letter is that it does not entitle a beneficiary to immediately take up a piece of land that has allegedly been acquired. It is merely a precursor to the possible issuance of a lease should certain further conditions be complied with.
It is important that the ZRP should at all times be impartial and to ensure that no selective application of the law is applied.
Elsewhere the president states: “It is the duty of the British to pay the compensation. We will only pay for improvements made at the farms.”
If this is the case, we request that those of our members and former members, who may so desire, be adequately and fairly compensated for their improvements, equipment and materials without delay and without prejudice to any other claims they may have against the state.
It is regrettable that the vast majority of our members and former members, the majority of whom were driven off their farms over the past 10 years, have not received any form of compensation.
Compensation for improvements, which has been paid to only a few former farmers, (less than 200 farmers out of approximately 3 500 who have been forcefully evicted), has been criticised as being grossly inadequate and unfair.
In some cases the total amount paid equates to less than 10% of the total value of the improvements.
The CFU and its members have never disputed the need for genuine land reform that truly empowers all the people of Zimbabwe, irrespective of gender, race, belief or political affiliation and without destabilising agricultural production.
We respectfully submit that this has clearly yet to happen.
Commercial Farmers’ Union.