Stop madness on farms


Reports of widespread evictions of farm workers by new land owners countrywide are a serious cause for concern.

On Saturday we reported that businessman and prominent Zanu PF member Philip Chiyangwa had evicted 55 families from his Chinhoyi farm. The families made up of women and young children were dumped in the open in the Mashonaland West capital and are facing a bleak future.

The workers claim Chiyangwa told them he could no longer pay their salaries and advised them to seek employment elsewhere before he embarked on the inhuman evictions.

In Mashonaland Central, 1 000 families made up of the so-called new farmers are also facing eviction from Arnold Farm in Mazowe.

According to media reports, the government says the evictions are necessary to pave way for the resuscitation of Manzou Game Park.

Similar evictions have been carried out in Manicaland where scores of families were misled into invading plantations by Zanu PF zealots.

What makes the evictions inhumane is that they are being carried out in the middle of the cropping season and families are not being given a chance to harvest their crops.

The justification for the haphazard land reform programme was that it was meant to correct past injustices. Some of those injustices included the ill-treatment of farm workers by the land owners.

It therefore boggles the mind that barely a decade after the Zanu PF mayhem on the countrys most productive farms, the party is now turning against the same people it used to destroy the agriculture sector.

One of the major criticisms of the land reform programme was that it benefited people who were not really interested in farming.

The programme was also described as a political gimmick where the beneficiaries would soon be sacrificed when they outlived their usefulness.

All those predictions are coming to pass with the developments on farms in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland.

Even as the evictions gather momentum, more people are being used to invade farms as we reported last week. We reported that an army officer, Eric Matotova, had invaded Ndire Farm in Mazowe with the apparent support of the senior Zimbabwe Defence Forces command.

The Commercial Farmers Union says it has recorded similar cases across the country and fears the summer cropping season will rank among the worst in years because of the disturbances.

What is appalling about these disturbances is that they are being engineered by a minority and have been going on for too long to the detriment of the majority of law-abiding citizens.

The only solution is for the inclusive government to get its act together and conduct an audit of the land reform programme.

The audit would help clean up the mess that Zanu PF created in the last decade for political expediency. It will also ensure that only people who are serious about farming remain on productive farms and rid our agriculture sector of political opportunists.

Meanwhile, the inclusive government cannot remain blind to the humanitarian crisis perpetuated by the farm evictions.

Something must be done to stop this madness and also to take care of the stranded families.

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