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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Zimbabwe: Marondera White Commercial Farmers Panic

The few remaining white commercial farmers in the Mashonaland East province are living in fear after Zanu PF activists and war veterans recently threatened to forcefully remove them from their properties.

Commercial farmers contacted over the weekend said the panic has affected the 2014/15 summer cropping season as they have adopted a wait and see strategy. The farmers said despite the meaningful rains that have fallen in the area full scale farming could not commence under such uncertainty.
Last month, hundreds of Zanu PF supporters and war veterans staged a demonstration in Marondera town calling for the removal of Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, Ray Kaukonde. They accused Kaukonde of protecting white commercial farmers among other things. Kaukonde was later dismissed as provincial chairperson in a move seen as a purge against senior Zanu PF politicians who are aligned to the Vice President, Joice Mujuru. The white farmers were also accused of providing Mujuru with financial assistance.
Farmers said claims that Kaukonde was protecting them may have resulted from the fact that there is still a reasonable number of white commercial farmers in the area as compared to other provinces.
"We do not know what is going to happen next and the threats made by the Zanu PF supporters have made us play a wait and see game. We will only know whether we are safe after the coming Zanu PF congress," said one commercial farmer outside Marondera.
Contacted for comment, the new Commercial Farmers' Union President, Peter Steyl refused say much but confirmed the concerns saying it had been a difficult period for the white commercial farmers.
"It has been very difficult," Steyl said adding that the CFU leadership would meet this week to review the situation.
Commercial agriculture which used to be the backbone of the economy has suffered a dramatic decline over the last 14 years due to violent seizure of white owned farms. In July Mugabe was reported to have said the few remaining white farmers should pack and go back to the Western countries from whence their ancestors came.

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