The end of an era for Zimbabwe's last white farmers?
Despite the introduction of a power-sharing government two years ago, state-backed farm seizures have continued. Colin Freeman meets one of the last white farmers still at work in Zimbabwe.
By Colin Freeman, Chegutu, Daily Telegraph
7:00AM BST 26 Jun 2011
Driving through land his family have tended for half a century, Colin Cloete stops to inspect a harvested tobacco field, rows of green stumps sprouting from a terracotta soil.
As a seasoned professional farmer, he knows the field needs to be reploughed before pests infest the weedy growths left behind. As a tired political campaigner, however, he knows it is no longer worth his while.
"We should be replanting these fields now, but I don't know who is going to benefit from the next harvest," he says, shaking his head. "I will probably do it anyway, but I do wonder whether it's worth it."
The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith; By Ian Douglas Smith
After an 11-year struggle in which their ranks have been murdered, beaten, jailed and bankrupted, the last of Zimbabwe's white farmers are finally facing defeat in their efforts to resist President Robert Mugabe's land-grab programme.
Despite the introduction of a power-sharing government two years ago, state-backed farm seizures have continued, and earlier this month, Mr Cloete lost a final appeal at Zimbabwe's Supreme Court to keep his one remaining property.
Next Monday, he will appear before a local magistrate to answer a charge of trespass, for which the only way to avoid jail will be to pack up and start looking for a new house in Harare, an hour's drive away.
With his departure will also go the hopes of some 300 other white farmers - all that remains of a community that was once 4,000 strong - for whom similar legal challenges had offered some last chance of protection, or at least a stay of execution.
"They will probably give me about 24 hours to get off my land, as they will say I have dragged things out through the appeal process already," sighed Mr Cloete, whose fields supply British American Tobacco, makers of Dunhill's and Benson and Hedges.
"To be honest, I don't really fancy the idea of moving to Harare, and the idea of giving up farming is heart-rending. If I was going to serve a couple of years in jail and then get the farm back, it might be worth it, but that's not how it is."
A former head of the Commercial Farmers' Union, Mr Cloete has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills fighting the land reform programme, which put Zimbabwe on the path to economic ruin a decade ago when black squatters were first encouraged to "invade" white-owned farms.
From Liberator to Dictator: An Insider's Account of Robert Mugabe's Descent into Tyranny; By Michael Auret
Purportedly to redress the injustices of white colonial rule, its effect has been largely to create a new landlord class: the pick of white-owned land has gone to Zanu-PF cronies, leaving an agricultural sector that was once the pride of Africa in the hands of people with no experience of farming.
Hopes that Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC might use their presence in government to halt the programme have proved premature, with the party fearing that vocal support for farmers could allow Mr Mugabe to portray them as the stooges of British rule.
However, the prospect that the MDC might still curb the programme should they win the next elections has encouraged Zanu-PF supporters to continue to grab the remaining white-owned farms while there is still a chance.
"Morgan knows that the land issue is too sensitive to broach because everything is tied in with the liberation struggle," said Mr Cloete, who lives on the farm with his wife Charmian, 57. "But do hope that at some point, we will get a new government and there will be a change of stance."
Mr Cloete's central claim to the Supreme Court was simple: he argued that as had bought the farm after independence in 1980, it could hardly have been considered the booty of a white colonial overlord, and therefore should be exempt from land-grab laws.
That the judges rejected it, though, came as no great surprise to him or his Harare-based lawyer, David Drury.
Zimbabwe's courts are dominated by Zanu-PF judges who are often beneficiaries of land-grabs themselves, says Mr Drury, while the few judges who find in favour of white claimants often end up losing their jobs.
Mr Drury, though, says the intention was not to triumph against odds that were always stacked against them, but to stage what he calls a "show trial" - a record of events that some post-Mugabe government may use to help rectify matters.
"It is a chance to provide a record of the injustice, in the hope that some sort of sanity will eventually be restored to cloud cuckoo land," he said.
"I am the first to support genuine land reform, and to support people who have been marginalised to become productive. But handing land to people on the basis of party connections is completely illogical."
In similar fashion, the Zimbabwean government has also chosen to ignore what should have been a legally binding 2008 ruling by a tribunal of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, made in response to a petition by 77 white farmers, that the land reform programme was inherently racist as it operated purely on the grounds of colour.
Legal challenges by a few other white farmers are due to be heard by the Supreme Court in July – with some claiming, for example, that they hold their land as a company rather than an individual - but the way every other case has so far been struck down means lawyers are already advising them to prepare to leave.
Even farmers who thought they were on solid legal ground have had no protection.
South African Dirk Visagie, another Chegutu farmer, has suffered constant harassment from farm invaders intent on grabbing his land, despite it supposedly being protected under a bilateral investment agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Mr Cloete, whose parents first came to Chegutu in 1955 and still live nearby, is in many ways typical of the white farmer's dwindling breed.
He wears the standard attire of khaki shorts and bush shirt, follows cricket keenly, and contrary to Mr Mugabe's narrative of white farmers as uncaring feudalists, shows a country squire's concern for the welfare of his black farm workers.
His mother, he says, built the 700-pupil local school, his father sat on the local council, and whenever his black neighbours need helping out - be it a fellow farmer borrowing a tractor, or the local police borrowing fuel for their cars - it is his door on which they knock.
"There is a perception that we had an elitist, privileged lifestyle, and just took advantage of our workers," he admits.
"And yes, I agree that there are some difficult farmers about - I learned that while dealing with them as head of the CFU. But there is never any talk about the schools we built, the clinics we built. We have never tried to live in isolation from the community."
He has already handed over another farm he owns to a group of black settlers who turned up in 2006, since when, he says, he has done his best to be neighbourly.
He helps prepare the land for cultivation and offers advice when they need it, although driving through his estate, it is clear that some of what is now in black hands is being used for little more than subsistence agriculture.
Such goodwill, however, counts for little when groups of club-wielding "war veterans" - ostensibly men who fought in Zimbabwe's war for independence, but in practice often just hired thugs - turn up to demand a farmer's departure, as they last did with Mr Cloete in late 2009.
The men, who he suspects were sent by Colonel Norman Kapanga, the retired policeman who has claimed his second, 450-acre farm, wielded clubs and lit a fire in his front garden, although they eventually left without further confrontation.
What stung more, though, were the "Go back to Britain" slogans they shouted - meaningless to a man who is in fact of French Huguenot stock, has only ever held a Zimbabwean passport, and has nowhere else to go even if he wanted to.
Infuriatingly, the view that he has no longer a citizen of his own country is shared by the black prosecutor who will oversee his trespass case next week, who has described him in previous court appearances as merely a "visitor".
"I have never viewed myself as anything other than Zimbabwean, and that is what hurts me most," he said.
"We are not being looked at as citizens of this country, yet my father was born here before Robert Mugabe. What future do we have when you are fighting people of that mentality?"
» » » » [Telegraph]
Zimbabwe policeman is denied asylum in Britain... but Robert Mugabe torturer can stay
By Jack Doyle, DailyMail.UK
Last updated at 10:53 PM on 5th June 2011
His British great-grandfather fought for his country in the Boer War and on the Somme before the family moved to Zimbabwe.
Now Guy Taylor has sought refuge in Britain, fearing a return to his native land would leave him facing persecution.
But despite his pleas for asylum in this country, immigration judges have dismissed his bid and he faces being deported.
The 31-year-old's case has provoked fury as it follows the decision to allow one of Robert Mugabe's former henchmen to stay in the UK indefinitely.
Phillip Machemedze was involved in 'savage acts of extreme violence', including smashing a man's jaw with pliers and then pulling out his teeth.
But last month it emerged an immigration tribunal ruled he cannot be sent back to Zimbabwe, as he fears for his human rights and could face torture.
Mr Taylor, by contrast, fears he could be deported within weeks.
He was born in Zimbabwe but his great-grandfather was Welsh and served in the Army during the First World War.
His mother's great-grandfather was born in Dublin and emigrated to South Africa at the turn of the last century.
» » » » [Read Further]
May 30, 2011
Peta Thornycroft | Harare, VOA News
Zimbabwean farmers attend a meeting of white commercial farmers in capital Harare (2010 file photo)
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court heard a case on behalf of three farmers who claimed the constitution excluded confiscation of their land because they bought their properties after the colonial era ended with independence in 1980.
The Supreme Court did not agree and quickly dismissed their application.
One of the farmers, Colin Cloete, a former president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union at the height of often violent land invasions seven years ago, was one of the applicants.
He, like many of his colleagues, has been arrested, harassed and appeared in court many times, to try to stay on his farm.
Like most surviving white farmers, the cost of going to court to try to fight his eviction has been unaffordable.
Looking back over the long and difficult years, Cloete, now 58, said his struggle to remain on his farm did not make economic sense.
» » » » [Read Further]
07 April, 2011 02:54:00
Mike Campbell (79), the Zimbabwean commercial farmer who made legal history when he took President Mugabe to the international court of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in 2007 and won the case a year later, passed away at his temporary home in Harare on April 6.
Campbell never recovered from the abduction and brutal beatings meted out to him, his wife Angela and son-in-law Ben Freeth by Zanu-PF thugs late at night in a remote militia camp on June 29, 2008 just two days after the Presidential run-off election.
Eventually their captors forced them at gunpoint to sign a paper stating that they would withdraw from the SADC Tribunal court case, due to be heard in Namibia the following month. They were dumped outside the town of Kadoma from where they were rushed to hospital.
Campbell sustained severe head injuries which resulted in brain damage, broken ribs and damage to his lower limbs caused by a crude and brutal torture method known as falanga.
This involves beating the soles of the feet with iron bars, logs or cables and can result in permanent disability or death due to kidney failure. Campbell’s medical report noted that severe force had been used and that the possibility of permanent damage was likely.
A dedicated farmer and conservationist, Campbell purchased Mount Carmel farm in the Chegutu district in 1975 and spent the next 24 years paying back the loan.
The farm was transferred legally into the family’s company name in 1999 on receipt of a “certificate of no interest” from the Mugabe government which had the first purchase option on any sale.
» » » » [Read Further]
Thanks for Our Zimbabwean ‘Democracy’, i.e. Terror & Torture Vote Rigging Elections!
Zimbabwe Roy Bennett's Speech at UK Houses of Lords & Commons
Roy Bennett Speech in Paris on Wednesday when he gave the key-note speech before Morgan Tsvangirai was awarded his Democracy award
UK Parliament - House of Commons and House of Lords
10 November 2010
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
For us in Zimbabwe, elections have brought us 30 years of torment, torture and death. What I want to give you now is not an academic analysis, but rather a personal, real life sense of the pain that this period has brought—to give you an idea of what elections mean for the ordinary Zimbabwean. I also want to explain how this nightmare has evolved and from it, urge that all opinion-makers are mobilised throughout the international community as yet another ‘election’ is to be held in Zimbabwe.
Unlike many countries in Africa, Zimbabwe has held many elections. We have held them on time and managed the mechanics of voting relatively efficiently. This poses an obvious question: why would a regime which believes it has a God-given right to rule in perpetuity bother with elections? The answer to this has its roots in an election which took place in February 1980 and in turn provided the basis for the formation of an independent Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu, had been fighting a war of liberation from colonial domination supported in that cold war era by China. Zanu’s leaders were deeply sceptical about participating in elections because it believed these would be rigged against them. Zanu was forced into this election by their main guerrilla host sponsors, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Zanu participated reluctantly and angrily—yet they also came up with a plan to ensure a manufactured majority of Zimbabweans would vote for them. Advised and trained by Peking at the time, they did this by terrorising and brutalising the rural population which, then, as now, constitutes the bulk of our people.
» » » » [Read Further]
UK Immig. Judge refers to Zimbabwe Farm Invasions as 'racially motivated' Genocide..
Woman who took part in violent attacks on white farmers in Zimbabwe denied UK asylum
By David Gardner, Daily Mail.UK
Last updated at 7:52 PM on 16th September 2010
A woman who admitted taking part in savage evictions of white farmers from their homes in Zimbabwe lost her bid for asylum after a High Court judge accused her of ‘crimes against humanity.’
Mr Justice Ouseley threw out the widowed mother-of-two’s appeal to remain in the UK after she confessed to beating up ten people during two land invasions.
The judge said the state-sponsored mob violence, which saw white famers’ land seized and shared out among President Robert Mugabe’s cronies, was akin to genocide.
‘We are satisfied that the two farm invasions were crimes against humanity,’ he said, likening the 39-year-old woman’s role to a concentration camp guard who followed Nazi orders during the Holocaust.
The woman, who cannot be named, came to Britain illegally in 2002 and did not claim asylum until six years later.
Her bid for refugee status was rejected on the grounds that her own violent actions in Zimbabwe disqualified her from humanitarian protection in this country.
She admitted to being part of a gang of thugs from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party who invaded two white-owned farms intent on causing maximum terror and driving away black workers.
The woman, referred to only as ‘SK”, agreed she had beaten up to ten people whilst their homes burned, ‘inflicting enough pain to get them to run away.’
She said that on one occasion, she beat a woman so badly she thought she would die.
However, she insisted she had taken part in the raids under duress to prove her loyalty to Mugabe’s regime and she had never intended to kill anyone.
Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber said the farm invasions were ‘part of widespread, systematic attacks’ against white farmers and their black workers, carried out with the full knowledge of the regime ‘as a deliberate act of policy’.
The intention behind the ‘obviously inhumane’ invasions ‘was to cause great suffering or inflict serious physical or mental injury’ on victims and cow them into never returning to their homes or opposing the Mugabe regime, he added.
‘The aim was achieved by the mob violence of beatings administered to men and women, burnings and lootings in a deliberately brutal and terrifying experience.
‘They were undertaken for political reasons, the suppression of perceived opposition and for the financial advancement of the regime members and supporters,’ he added.
There was also a ‘clear racial element’ to the attacks, the judge said.
» » » » [Read Further]
Black Zimbabweans say life was better under White Rhodesian Goverment...
Postcard From Zimbabwe
By Nicholas D. Kristof
Published: April 7, 2010, New York Times
HWANGE, Zimbabwe: Here’s a measure of how President Robert Mugabe is destroying this once lush nation of Zimbabwe:
In a week of surreptitious reporting here (committing journalism can be a criminal offense in Zimbabwe), ordinary people said time and again that life had been better under the old, racist, white regime of what was then called Rhodesia.
“When the country changed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, we were very excited,” one man, Kizita, told me in a village of mud-walled huts near this town in western Zimbabwe. “But we didn’t realize the ones we chased away were better and the ones we put in power would oppress us.”
“It would have been better if whites had continued to rule because the money would have continued to come,” added a neighbor, a 58-year-old farmer named Isaac. “It was better under Rhodesia. Then we could get jobs. Things were cheaper in stores. Now we have no money, no food.”
Over and over, I cringed as I heard Africans wax nostalgic about a nasty, oppressive regime run by a tiny white elite. Black Zimbabweans responded that at least that regime was more competent than today’s nasty, oppressive regime run by the tiny black elite that surrounds Mr. Mugabe.
» » » » [Read Further]
Liberation by Extermination of White Settler Reconciliation
Transcript: Christiane Amanpour interviews Robert Mugabe
Christiane Amanpour & Robert Mugabe
CNN, 24 September 2009
AMANPOUR: So do you consider white Zimbabweans to be Zimbabweans?
MUGABE: Those who are naturalized and have citizenship, yes.
AMANPOUR: Those who've been living there for years and years and years?
MUGABE: But historically...
MUGABE: ... historically, they have a debt.
AMANPOUR: The people who -- contributing to farming -- historically they have a debt to pay?
MUGABE: Yes, yes, their land. They -- they occupied the land illegally. They seized the land from our people.
MUGABE: And therefore, the process of reform, land reform, involved their handing -- having to hand over the land. We agreed upon this with the British, by the way.
AMANPOUR: Some 80 percent of that land was acquired after you took office, some of the farmland, and with the very certificates that mean government approval. Why are these people being hounded out of the country? Why are they being...
MUGABE: They are not -- they are not being hounded.
AMANPOUR: ... hounded off their land, then?
MUGABE: No, no, no, they're not being hounded out of the country at all.
AMANPOUR: We've just done reports about it.
MUGABE: Those who are in industry and manufacturing and mining are not being...
AMANPOUR: The farmers I'm talking about. Why is that...
MUGABE: ... are not being affected.
AMANPOUR: ... wonderful farmland and why are they being...
MUGABE: What are you talking about? We are getting land from them, and that's all. They're not being hounded out of the country, not at all.
AMANPOUR: They're being hounded off their land.
MUGABE: (inaudible) their land.
AMANPOUR: It's not theirs?
MUGABE: Our -- our land.
AMANPOUR: Even though they bought it, even though they bought it with the certificates of approval from the government?
MUGABE: But haven't you heard of the Lancaster House discussions and the agreement with the British government? Because they are British settlers; originally they have been British settlers. And we agreed at Lancaster House that there would be land reform.
AMANPOUR: But they're citizens. But they're citizens, aren't they? And isn't this farming disaster contributing to your...
MUGABE: Citizens by colonization, seizing land from the original people, indigenous people of the country.
AMANPOUR: But how did that all go so wrong?
MUGABE: You approve of that?
AMANPOUR: How did that all go so wrong? Because when you came in, you -- it was -- it was about reconciliation.
MUGABE: They knew about it. They knew we had this program of land acquisition and land reform. They knew about it.
AMANPOUR: But what about the blacks, then?
MUGABE: And the British knew about it.
» » » » [Read Further]
White Refugee Pensioners in Zimbabwe Today; South Africa 2020; Europe 2050
10 February 2011
Andrea Muhrrteyn, White Refugees
Once considered the Breadbasket of Southern Africa, today Zimbabweans face the following:
- 90% unemployment
- Major shortages in most consumer goods and raw materials
- Fuel shortages and when petrol is available, it is hugely unaffordable
- A cost of living that far exceeds earnings income
- Widespread Famine and Disease
- An excessively corrupt goverment
- Lawless Society and extensive media censorship
- An economy that has collapsed - all transactions are now in Rand or US$
- Pensioners that are destitute and without means of support
How did This Happen?:
» » [Mugabe and the White African]
» » [Why Were We So Wrong About Mugabe?]
» » [The Sixth Weapon: Ethno-Cultural Warfare]
» » [Frank Ellis on Zimbabwe & SA Farm Murders]
» » [UK Immig. Judge: Zim Farm Invasions = Genocide]
» » [White SA's & Zim's: World's Euro Coalmine Canaries]
» » [Roy Bennet 2 UK: Thanks for Our Zimbabwean ‘Democracy’!]
» » ['Life was better under White Rhodesia Gov.' - Black Zimbabweans]
» » [From Rhodesia's Kings Feast Breadbasket to Zimbabwe's Basketcase]
» » [Christiane Amanpour interviews Robert Mugabe; Re 'Reconciliation']
» » [Africa's Indiginisation -- Bread Basket to Basket Case -- Pied Piper....]