Zimbabwe Police Plunder Invaded Farm
While crime rates in Zimbabwe increase and while the police are more eager to crack down on political dissent, it emerges this morning that they have diverted attention from their their "core business" of policing in Zimbabwe and are now instead into farming. The Zimbabwe police have taken over a farm in Marondera, where they are busy plundering timber from a vast cultivated field of gum tress left behind by the previous owner. Their attempts at farming crops have, by their own admission, failed dismally.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 22 December 2009
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has "moved from its core business as police" and is now busy plundering timber at an invaded farm in Marondera, cutting down vast tracts of gum trees and selling the timber to tobacco farmers to allow them to cure their harvests.
The police were given the nearly 3 000 hectare farm by Mugabe under the Land Reform Programme and they are openly boasting that the former owner of the farm was "into timber", which they have now take over.
These, mind you, are trees that they found on the farm, tended and cultivated by someone else, who has now been kicked off that land without any compensation.
It is a stunning admission by Mugabe's police, this. The Zimbabwean dictator has always claimed that he is only after the soil itself and that he will compensate former owners for "improvements on the land" only and not for the soil itself.
The definition of "improvements" is what has led most former farmers (mostly white Zimbabweans) to resist the Programme.
Routinely, politicians and those that are well-connected politically wait until a farmer has a crop in the ground and has tended to the fields almost to the point of harvest before moving in and taking over a nearly ripe crop without paying a single cent for it.
By any definition, this is plunder and is one of the main reasons why the world (especially the Western countries) are opposed to the Land Reform Programme. This approach is what they object to.
For the farm n Marondera, the police are openly admitting that they have failed to properly utilising the land. According to them, all they could manage last year was 17 tonnes of maize (corn) which they say "did not give a good return".
They are trying again this year and have once again planted maize as well as tobacco.
But it is the forest of cultivated gum trees that they say is now giving them good money.
The struggling and bankrupt Zimbabwe Cold Storage Company (CSC) has also given the policemen 22 cattle for the farm.
Mugabe has been very careful to ensure that the police and the army are given vast tracts of land to farm and they have, in turn, caused an uproar by using prisoners as forced labour on their farms.
With most policemen not being farmers, the result has been that the land given them lies mostly idle, not exploited to its full potential and thereby contributing to the food shortages that now bedevilled Zimbabwe.
Most foodstuffs on sale in our supermarkets now is imported.
Meanwhile, with the police preoccupied with farming and with politics, crime in Zimbabwe is slowly increasing in the wake of the dollarisation of the economy. Most of the crimes committed in Zimbabwe today go unsolved and it has become an unaccepted norm that for such things as break-ins and robberies, it is a waste of time to report to the police because they never make an effort to solve any of them. They are, however, very quick to come down on human rights and political activists, blocking their marches and violently breaking them up.
All this is happening while the MDC-Tsvangirai party is partly in charge of the this very same police force. Their co-Minister of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa, has been telling everyone who will listen (most recently at a Police Summit in Singapore) that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is a "professional force" that is well educated in human rights!!
To change this culture within the police force will require a change in government, which is looking very unlikely with the confirmation that Mugabe will run again for president at the next elections.
It will, therefore, be business as usual for the police in Zimbabwe for some years to come.