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Home | ZimCrisis#90 -- Rape of the Land

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 00:15:28 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#90 -- Rape of the Land

Hi everyone,

I think that this has already made the rounds, but it's worth reading if you haven't seen it yet. More reports from Zimbabwe that the intimidation of farmers and the invasion of their property continues.


The violence on farms goes on and I thought you might like to get a personal view from one farmers wife east of Harare. This situation is being repeated all over the country and there is total disregard for the rule of law.

Date: Sunday, July 09, 2000 7:43 AM
Subject: The rape of the land

Dear family and friends,

Two weeks after the elections and still the invasions continue. There are still demands for food, fuel, transport and, this week, forced evacuations. The incidents are occurring on both the 804 designated properties and any others which the "war veterans" take a liking to. I don't know why any of us thought it would stop just like that because if it had then surely the whole world would have said - ah so it was just electioneering. As we were in the month before the elections, we are again a country in limbo; no cabinet has yet been appointed, parliament has still to be called. There is still no one giving orders, no one making policies and we remain a country without law and order, no one is answerable to anyone - yet. I can only speculate that the President is having some very sleepless nights wondering how on earth he is going to undo all the damage he has done without losing face. He's got some serious back-pedalling to do, and soon, if he's going to persuade any one of us farmers to even plant a single potato, let alone a saleable crop.

Morale amongst the farming community is now at its lowest ebb. Every day the conversation goes round and round, the same phrases dominate: "they shouldn't be allowed", "when the police come", "I don't know". None of us know what to do or who to turn to for direction, guidance or even common sense. We don't know when or if a halt will ever be called to the invasion of our land. We don't know if we should wait another month or even another day and every day we hear of yet another farmer closing down and walking out. Perhaps Ian and I are being very stupid, naive or just downright dumb as we both continue to believe that right will prevail. That said though, we aren't yet making any decisions. We don't know if we should buy a new bull to put to our remaining cows, if we should put the rams back in with the ewes, if we should re-start our flock of layers. All the things we would normally be doing in winter are not being done. We are still unable to rotate the paddocks and ease the pressure on the land as every fence on the farm is down. We have not ploughed any fire breaks, have not done any of the usual repairs to the store, have not been able to clear any of the weeds from the dams, have not bought in our usual tonnage of winter feed, have not sold any of our weaners. This dismally depressing story is being played out on every farm in the country. It is a very frustrating time and as every day passes we despair for the short and long term food security of the country. Basically until we are given long term guarantees that this is in fact our land, we cannot make any plans at all.

We've had a strange week on the farm as, for the first time in four months, we went down onto the fields below the house where the temporarily absent war veterans lived for the past 16 weeks. As our workers started on the mammoth task of re-erecting the first of many fences, Ian and I looked at what these bastards have done to our land. Everywhere there is litter: plastic bags, Vaseline bottles, cigarette boxes, shards of asbestos, beer cans and paper. I got angrier and angrier as I saw the unspeakable mess hey had left in the field. When I got to the big tree under which their tent had sat, I had to swallow very hard to stop the vomit. An 18 inch square has been carved deeply into the bark, chipped out and JAR has left his initials engraved into the wood. I ripped the political poster off another tree on our boundary fence and Ian closed the gate the squatters had liberated. We inspected two of their huts and we were both shocked at how many trees have been felled to construct these crude structures. The one house is about 12 foot by 12 foot and the walls are made entirely of poles, each one almost touching the next one. Inside the hut we found a huge pile of poles, another of firewood and another of sheets of tin. Outside, three newly dug vegetable beds, one planted with sweet potatoes. Ringing the house, nine fruit trees have been planted, protected with rusty ins from the wind and frost - guavas, peaches and mangoes. We just looked but did nothing although the temptation to drop a match was enormous. Then we went down to our little dam and that was even more shocking. Once densely enclosed with trees, the surrounds are now sparse and a cold wind blew through the haven where our cattle used to drink. The dam wall has been broken and water gushes out, with no sign that our liberators had even attempted to repair the breech - great farmers they would be. The entire surface area of the dam is covered with thick, choking, suffocating red Azolla weed. Floating and bloated in the water is a dead animal and at that sight I can't take any more and leave Ian and the workers trying to get it out. Later I learn that it is a huge male reedbuck that's got a bullet hole through it's shoulder. I am outraged at how these people, supposedly land hungry peasants desperate to be farmers, have raped our land this past 4 months. Breaking down fences, burning poles and droppers, defacing trees, littering the fields, felling literally hundreds of trees, leaving exposed pit toilets, a dead animal left to foul the water - my God, my God.

All week we've kept working on one little fence, knowing we're being watched, wondering how long it will be before someone tries to stop us. As we've worked I've bitterly resented every cent I've had to spend on new staples, poles and wire. The "war veterans" have continued to walk in and out at will to cut trees and collect firewood. They've pushed their cattle back in to graze and every day we've closed the gate and they've re-opened it. It is a ridiculously insane situation which surely cannot go on for much longer.

To end on a light note. Richard stays at school for lunch every day and every night comes home absolutely starving. Says the dinner ladies won't give him meat and he's only had vegies for lunch and, if it's curry he's only had rice. So over the election week he suddenly starts coming home feeling a lot better, he's had chicken and chips, hamburgers and veg, sadza and stew. It turns out that two bully boys on his table have been taking his share of meat every day and have told the dinner ladies that he's a vegetarian! So the bully boys have done a runner over the election period and at last my shy little boy has found the courage to tell the servers - but I do eat meat!

After some serious table banging this week, our phone is finally fixed. Thank you all for your support and I hope I've answered all the e-mails. Hopefully I'll have less to say next week.

Much love,


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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List Archives -- http://www.niner.net/zimcrisis
- 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