Invaders booted off farm

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President Robert Mugabe’s government has succumbed to threats by the German government to cut off aid should Harare not eject people who invaded plantations owned by a German national in Chipinge, Manicaland.
A fortnight ago, the German government threatened to sever ties with Harare after suspected Zanu PF supporters took over Makandi Tea and Coffee Estates owned by Heinrich von Pezold.
The government, built on shifting sands, had previously refused to evict the invaders saying the land reform programme was irreversible and not subject to court decisions.
Buoyed by open support from senior Zanu PF officials including Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa, the invaders defied court rulings ordering them to vacate the land.
The illegal land occupiers are believed to have looted maize and other crops valued at more than $1 million since moving onto the farm on June 18.
This invasion angered the German government which threatened to stop aid to Zimbabwe unless the situation was addressed.
Because of the threats, the government moved swiftly to
evict the invaders who were led by community leaders and ward councillors in Chipinge.
Matthias Schuhmacher, Deputy Head of Mission with the German Embassy in Harare, told NewsDay yesterday calm had returned to the plantations.
“Things are now calm,” Schuhmacher said. “We have been told that they (occupiers) have moved out. We are getting regular updates.”
He said those who had invaded the estates no longer seemed to enjoy any political backing.
The properties are covered by a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Zimbabwe and Germany which does not allow the expropriation of the farms.
“If it stays like this I will be happy that a German investor’s property is being respected,” Schuhmacher said.
“We hope they (government) understand such actions (invasions) destroy the confidence of any investor who would be contemplating coming to Zimbabwe. There are small gains in invading a farm of a foreign investor compared to long-term gains. To rebuild confidence will take much longer.”
There were also reports workers at the plantations had played a role in ensuring the invaders were driven out.
“Workers realised they will lose their jobs so they drove off the invaders,” Schuhmacher said.