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Home | ZimCrisis -- Border Timbers Sawmill Invasion

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 01:35:50 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis -- Border Timbers Sawmill Invasion
Cc: "Australian government":;, "British government":;,
"Canadian government":
;, "South African government":;,
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Hi everyone,

Another eyewitness account of ZANU-PF election campaigning.


The following is an eye witness account of the invasion of Border Timbers Sawmill in Chimanimani last week. In the same area the MDC candidate (a local white farmer -- Roy Bennett) whose nick name in the area is Pechanu ("he who acts alone") is standing. Roy was forced off his farm and he has now withdrawn his staff and moveable assets to safety. He was told that if he abandoned the MDC he could have his farm back. He refused and continues to campaign in the area. Roy farms coffee and other products in a high rainfall area. Here is the report. It is anonymous for obvious reasons.

I had a very interesting day yesterday, one of the aspects of my job is that I have to go out to the sawmills and ensure they are producing what we need in the town factories. Well yesterday I went to our sawmills in Chimanimani, and arrived there just in time to be included in the Chimanimani Chapter of the War veterans' political re-education programme. These so called war vets, some of whom were under 20 years old, had just marched into our largest sawmill and demanded that it be closed so that they could hold an illegal rally. They were accompanied by two totally ineffective policemen.

When I arrived they had already started the rally. I was pulled from the car and forced to march to the back of the sawmill. I tried to reason with them, but each time they would shout in my face, "Stop calling us bloody kaffirs." I tried to say that I wasn't, only to be told I had called them black bastards. They then told me to sit down with the workers and listen to the rally, all of which was in Shona so I didn't have a clue what they were ranting and raving about.

One of them then noticed a bulge in my pocket and started shouting that I had a gun, I said "Don't be silly, it's my keys" and pulled them out of the pocket. I was rewarded with a open handed full force slap across the ear, which knocked my glasses flying. I was then pulled up to the front of the crowd where I was again accused of calling them black kaffirs and black bastards. I denied this which just made them madder. At this point the police inspector who was at the rally came up to me and said, "Please just apologise for your own safety." I explained that I had not said anything that I was being accused of. He replied that it did not matter and that I should just apologise anyway.

The so called war vets are absolutely insane, and pure evil exudes from them. They have a demonic look in their eyes, and they refuse to listen to any reasoning.

I was then told to sit in the mud in front of the sawmill work force, and was forced to chant ZANU (PF) slogans. They then called me up to the front to stand with them, and they forced me to read out a totally fictitious document that was meant to be an agreement between Anglo American and the MDC, where the details of how the country's assets would be divided up after an MDC victory. Anyone with even half a brain could tell that this was just ZANU (PF) propaganda. It was so poorly written and so unbelievable that it would have been funny had I not been surrounded by people carrying spears, batons and machetes.

After a couple of hours of this they sent the workers away and asked the management to stay behind, so that we could take down a list of their demands. One of the other white managers suggested that we go into the offices, so that we could take notes properly. In a screaming voice the one war vet yelled, "This is our fucking land and you can't tell us what to do." So like I have said before these people have crossed the line and are no longer sane. Anyway, we took down a list of their demands which were as follows:

1) Mr Bottger and Mr Coates (two most senior managers in Chimanimani) are to be replaced with black managers in the next 48 hours.
2) Messers Bottger and Coates are to be delivered to the war vets.
3) Border Timbers is to fund ZANU (PF)'s election campaign.
4) Border Timbers is to provide transport to ferry the workers and their families to the ZANU (PF) rallies.
5) Border Timbers is to supply two cows for meat at the rally.

My name along with the names of the other three managers with me were taken down, and we were told we would be held accountable if their demands were not met. They then left the premises to go onto other commercial enterprises in the area, followed closely by their police escort.

I went back to my car which, if you remember, I was pulled out of, only to find the war vets had stolen my car radio / tape, my radar detector and a jacket that was on the seats. This once again proves that they are nothing more than common criminals and thugs.

As for me, I am fine but am no longer a passive supporter of the opposition. I will not do anything stupid, but I am more determined than ever to stay here and vote this evil bunch out of power and into the jail cells they deserve. One driver from Chimanimani was braver than me and refused to take off his MDC t-shirt. He was beaten senseless, and left in a ditch until they had finished intimidating the rest of us. Only then, four hours later, was he allowed to be taken to hospital.

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk