By Chengetai Zvauya
HARARE – White commercial farmers have come under renewed siege from farm invaders following the disbandment of the Sadc Tribunal last week, according to representatives.
Charles Taffs, the Commercial Farmers Union vice president said his organisation had received fresh invasions in Manicaland’s Chipinge area as well as on the outskirts of Harare this week.
He said the dissolution of the Sadc Tribunal, the white farmers’ last frontier of hope, had left them as cannon fodder to President Robert Mugabe’s allies clamouring for the complete removal of whites from farms.
Sadc leaders last Friday dissolved the Sadc Tribunal, which acted as a regional court for citizens denied justice in their own countries, for 12 months pending a review of operations.
“These new invasions are being encouraged because of the disbandment of the Sadc Tribunal which had ruled in our favour in the past two years and we want a way forward over these matters as the invasions are disrupting farming operations,’’ said Taffs.
Although the Zimbabwe government had refused to recognise the court’s rulings, positive judgments from the court kept a glimmer of hope for white farmers whose majority lost land under the often-violent land reform programme.
Taffs said only 230 commercial farmers remained in business from 4 500 at the start of the land reforms in 2000.
“There are problems in Chipinge where two farmers are being chased off their farms since the beginning of this week. We are in the process of trying to negotiate with the invaders to allow the farmers to continue with farming. We have also another farmer, Desmond Fox facing the same problem in Pomona area,’’ said Taffs.
The Sadc summit was expected to be a culmination of an early-drawn out process that began in August last year when some regional leaders led by Mugabe called for the review of the role, functions and terms of reference of the Tribunal.
Mugabe’s regime has been at the fore-front of attacking the Tribunal, which had ruled against Mugabe’s land reform programme in a series of cases dealing with land disputes brought by white commercial farmers.
“The white commercial farmers are being discriminated because of the colour of their skin. These are professional farmers that are being denied the chance to ply their trade yet the country needs them,’’ said Taffs. Daily News