Germany threatens to withdraw aid


Germany has threatened to cut off aid to Zimbabwe unless Zanu PF supporters who reportedly invaded a farm owned by a German national, Heinrich von Pezold, were removed.
Yesterday Germany wrote a protest note to Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry, saying the continued
occupation of their national’s property violates a decade-old investment agreement between the two countries.
Germany said the farm seizure and looting on the property could imperil aid. Last year, Germany gave
$50 million to Zimbabwe.
Germany said it “will not be in a position to support a government which tolerates the blunt theft” of the land where houses, equipment and $120 000 worth of corn, the staple food, had been looted.
Police national spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena told NewsDay last night that he was unaware of any fresh farm invasions in the country.
However, reports are that an armed mob stormed the estate in Chipinge on June 18 and held two farm managers hostage in their homes.
Police arrived later but did not attempt to end the hostage taking.
“Property rights should be dealt with in court and not by applying raw violence,” the German embassy in Zimbabwe said.
The German government called on authorities to end the occupation, and noted that the situation had created large financial losses in food crops, timber, tea and coffee operations for von Pezold, the largest German investor in Zimbabwe.
Ripe coffee worth $500 000 was rotting on the bushes, it was reported.
Germany’s government also said the occupation violated international law and demonstrated lack of commitment from senior Zimbabwean officials to honour investment agreements.
In Berlin, the German foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday that the European nation ceased development aid to Zimbabwe in 2002 but continued to provide humanitarian aid through non-government and civil society organisations.
Humanitarian charities in Zimbabwe say their foreign aid goes towards food supplies to the needy and improving health, education and other government services that collapsed in the country’s economic meltdown in years of political and economic turmoil.
Farmers’ organisations also protested the arrest on Thursday of South African national Mike Odendaal for allegedly not vacating his farm in south-eastern Zimbabwe under an eviction notice.
Odendaal was released by police and was leaving his land in Chipinge, 400 kilometres southeast of Harare, yesterday, headed for South Africa.
On June 26, he had won a High Court ruling that struck down the eviction, allowing him to stay on the farm, ordering authorities to remove illegal occupiers.
Deon Theron, head of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe, said Odendaal had “had enough” after months of threats and legal wrangling.
“This again shows total disrespect for the law,” Theron told the media. The South African support group AfriForum said South African officials in Zimbabwe and South Africa ignored pleas from Odendaal and other South Africans forced from land protected by bilateral trade and investment deals.
“It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one sees that the South African government turns its back on its own citizens who are subject to human rights violations in Zimbabwe,” the group said in a statement. Violent land seizures began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy. 300 white farmers remain on their land and more than half of them are facing eviction orders.
About 4 000 have been forced from their farms since 2 000 under a programme President Robert Mugabe insisted was to correct colonial era imbalances in land ownership. Many prime farms were allocated to new black farmers still lie idle.