SUSPECTED Zanu PF supporters have forcibly evicted more than 40 commercial farmers from their properties throughout the country since the March 29 elections in a crackdown against white farmers ahead of the June 27 presidential election run-off between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Trevor Gifford this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that since the polls, Zanu PF militia invaded 45 farms, but 37 of the affected farmers have since returned to their properties.
“Since the (March 29) elections some 45 farmers were violently evicted by youth militia, but some 37 have managed to return, or visit the properties to manage them and manage them whilst staying elsewhere,” said Gifford. “Some 186 properties were visited by these (Zanu PF) groups around the country. In most instances farmers were ordered to leave within 24 hours.”
The CFU boss alleged that farm workers were forced to attend night vigils (pungwes) where they were ordered to vote for Mugabe in the second round of the presidential poll.
Gifford claimed that the police were declining to prosecute the perpetrators of the evictions saying the cases were “political”.
He said out of the reported cases, the police and the courts successfully prosecuted one case.
“In the case, the accused were fined $40 million each,” Gifford said. “In many cases police refuse to prosecute as they say it is political.”
Most of the forced evictions, according to the CFU boss, were against the laws of this country.
“Only two of the evictions were in terms of the law, but both cases are being appealed as they were both under an Interim Relief order from the Sadc Tribunal,” Gifford said.
Among some of the evicted farmers is Andrew Stidolph of Grand Parade farm in Karoi North who alleged that a senior army officer violated both Zimbabwe law and the Sadc Tribunal interim relief barring his ouster.
Stidolph, who is one of the 75 commercial farmers waiting for next Wednesday’s determination by the Sadc Tribunal, alleged that Major-General Nick Dube a fortnight ago ordered soldiers to evict him from the farm.
In March the Sadc Tribunal granted an interim relief to applicants affected by the compulsory government land acquisition the right to use farms until a determination was passed.
“Accordingly, we order that the Republic of Zimbabwe shall take no steps, or permit no steps to be taken directly or indirectly, whether by its agents or by orders, to evict from, or interfere with, the peaceful residence on, and beneficial use of, their properties in respect of the applicants or interveners referred to,” read the interim relief.
By Bernard Mpofu