Farm Invasions Intensify As South Africa Signs Agreement With Mugabe

Zimbabwean white farmer Tom Bayley is taunted by singing and jeering ZANU PF supporters at his farm as he rode to an abandoned house to use as a shelter. Farms in Chegutu, which is in Mugabe's home province, have seen an upsurge in invasions and intimidation since Friday, when South Africa signed an agreement with Harare to protect the investments of its citizens in Zimbabwe.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 November 2009

Just as news arrives that South African and Zimbabwe have signed a new Bi-lateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement which expressly excludes all farms currently under dispute and/or invaded, we learn that farm invasions have taken a new intensity in Mugabe's home province, around the town of Chegutu.

The BIPPA was signed on Friday despite court applications by Agricultural pressure groups in South Africa.

Just as it was being signed, at least three farms in the Chegutu area were being invaded afresh. One of them, Umvovo Farm, owned by Thomas Beattie, first got invaded in August and the Zimbabwean courts put an end to that effort.

But since Friday, the original invaders have come back with a vengeance. The Beatties have now finally left their home, paving the way for the invasion to be completed. They have been there for 30 years.

The siege continues at Rainbow's End Farm, owned by members of the Beattie family, as well as Wakefield Farm.

To understand this, you have to appreciate the psychology behind the invasions, especially from ZANU PF. The party does not want white farmers in Zimbabwe to have any hope. They want to deny them even that emotion.

You will recall that just after the launch of the Inclusive Government, another wave of high-profile invasions took place and the issue was discussed in Cabinet, with ZANU PF cabinet ministers saying it had to be demonstrated to white farmers that Morgan Tsvangirai's presence in government corridors did not mean that the Land Reform Program would be reversed. There were accusations that some of the farmers who had lost their farms had gone back to their properties "boasting" that the invaders now had to leave and this made hardliners in ZANU PF even angrier, despite their failure to investigate the reports to establish their truth.

This time around, the signing of the BIPPA with South Africa would also have given hope to South African farmers still on their invaded farms and even those who have already been kicked off and have left. They would naturally have assumed that the Agreement would mean that, as South Africans, they would now be protected by their government against further intimidation and invasions.

Mugabe and his people want to make sure that the farmers understand that their plight will not change and they stay on the farms only because ZANU PF is letting them and not because of any other reason.

With reports like these continuing to go out to the world, Morgan Tsvangirai now completely quiet on the issue of farm invasions and failing to stand up for the rule of law, it is unlikely that we will see any economic recovery: investors will continue to shy away and production will continue to be disrupted.

It is almost as if Mugabe never lost an election and was forced into a power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai, the perceived champion of the rule of law, who is turning out to be more interested in power than justice and truth.


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