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White farmers under siege

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There has been an upsurge of farm invasions countrywide, which has seen several white commercial farmers being targeted and assaulted, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has said.

Although police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri said they were not aware of the escalating violence and farm invasions, some of the farmers claimed they were attacked by suspected Zanu PF activists.

“We would urge victims to report to their nearest police station because it is difficult for us to react without a report or a complainant,” Phiri said.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said claims that his party’s supporters were behind the attacks were “propaganda. We know and are now used to it,” Gumbo said.

“Were the people labelled Zanu PF, why don’t they go to the police and report?” But CFU president Charles Taffs yesterday said the violence on farms had resulted in international financiers who had pledged to assist commercial farmers with about $200 million in finance, pulling out the bulk of the funds, leaving only $30 million available.

“Invasions are happening across the country, especially in the last six weeks,” he said.

“We have a situation in Mazowe Valley where a Belgian national was evicted last week. He was given a 24-hour notice to leave although the eviction was a blatant disregard of the Bippa (Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement), which is a country-to-country agreement.”

Taffs said some farmers outside Bulawayo were attacked last weekend as the invasions spread countrywide. “We also have a Guruve farmer, who was attacked and is in a coma.

“In Headlands, another farmer was stabbed and this has been happening in the last six weeks. It’s a sad development because this has affected (farming) financing.

“Who in their right mind is going to lend money to Zimbabwe agriculture when they see this violence when property rights are not respected?”

Most affected farmers refused to speak on their experiences fearing further attacks, but NewsDay had access to some pictures of the victims.

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