Zimbabwe faces farmers challenge

White farmers say they will not leave their land without a fight.

by
    William Campbell, like many white farmers, is faced with eviction, and has
    been refused compensation by the government

    Zimbabwe's white farmers are mounting a legal challenge to keep their farms in the face of a government threat of eviction.

    Since 2000, the government has been seizing land from white farmers and is set to continue a policy deemed 'unjust' by the farmers who have lived on the land for decades.


    William Campbell, a farmer of 33 years, is caught in a struggle with the Zimbabwean government to keep his farm, as the first one he owned was taken away.

    In its seventh year, the land reform programme in Zimbabwe has resulted in hundreds of farms being confiscated, and the government says that it is up to Britain, a former colonial power, to deliver on its promise to compensate white farmers.

    Campbell is set to lose $2 million worth of property.

    He said: "I asked the lands officer the other day when he came here and wanted us off. I asked what happened to the government's policy of 'one man, one farm'?

    Anger makes you sick. I'm too old to get sick, so I don't get angry anymore. I've said the only way to get me off this farm is dead - so they will have to come and shoot me."
    Campbell told Al Jazeera that the lands officer told him that "the governemnt is taking all white farms away from white farmers", and that this policy no longer applies.

    He says he won't leave, and is prepared to die fighting for his land.

    "Anger makes you sick. I'm too old to get sick, so I don't get angry anymore. I've said the only way to get me off this farm is dead - so they will have to come and shoot me."

    However, George Shire, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that white farmers in the country have placed themselves in conflict with the government for a very long time, and have resisted land distribution schemes for decades.

    He said: "The farmers have contributed to the acrimony that has taken place. They were given sufficient notice, but have continued to resist government policies."

    The minister of lands in Harare declined Al Jazeera's request for an interview.

    Peter Etheredge, another farmer, showed Al Jazeera court papers that he filed to prevent a Edna Madzongwe, a parliamentary speaker, from throwing him off his family home.

    Growing tension

    He said that an encounter with Madzongwe's "thugs" could have turned violent.

    "We had Edna Madzongwe's youth and thugs come on to the farm, basically to try to jambanja my brother off out of his house - jamganja meaning kick him out illegally out of his house - despite a provisional high court order."

    The altercation was recorded, in which black Zimbabwean war veterans threatened Etheredge to leave his land.

    "We have fought for this country - we have suffered for this country ... that's why we are here and we are going to get [your land]," they said. 

    Etheredge exports oranges as far as the Middle East, and like William Campbell, is not prepared to give up his land without a fight.

    But an all too-common picture in Zimbabwe is that they may be forced to go.

    The farmers say they will continue to pursue legal action to challenge the evictions

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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