Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the relative handful of white farmers who have not been driven from their properties in the name of land reform, again urged the government Monday to halt the latest wave of farm takeovers which it says is inflicting further damage on agriculture.
The CFU in a statement lamented what it termed government’s “failure to stop ongoing violence against farmers.” It warned that drought and the disruptions of farming activity would limit the 2010 maize harvest to some 500,000 tonnes against an annual national requirement of 1.8 million tonnes.
"The CFU deplores the government's failure to stop the ongoing violence against farmers and their workers, and for allowing a handful of thugs to operate with complete impunity," declared the CFU in its statement.
Commercial Farmers Union President Deon Theron told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that it is high time the national unity government, in which President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change share power, took a firm stand.
Co-Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa of the Tsvangirai MDC grouping said his ministry was doing all it can to stop seizures. However, his co-minister, Kembo Mohadi, is a senior figure in ZANU-PF which has resolved to press on with farm seizures until the last white farmer has been removed.
Independent agricultural consultant Mandla Nkomo said that due to poor rainfall during much of the growing season, some 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of maize will have to be imported to cover the deficit. The Harare government is conducting an assessment of crop conditions with various partners.
Agriculture Secretary Vincent Gwaradzimba of the Tsvangirai MDC formation offered VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere a similar assessment.
Meanwhile, a Mutare magistrate on Monday granted bail of US$200 apiece to two white farmers arrested last Thursday in Chipinge for contempt of court for trying to serve a high court ruling on local magistrate Samuel Zuze, who was allocated a farm in Chipinge by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement in November last year, according to an offer letter seen by VOA.
Trevor Gifford and Dawie Jourbert will be back in court on February 16.
The Commercial Farmers Union said it was "extremely concerned that Magistrate Zuze, who is being accused of grossly exceeding his jurisdiction, is a beneficiary of (Mike) Jahme's farm." Last week Zuze ordered three white farmers to vacate their properties within 24 hours - an order that was stayed 24 hours later by the Harare High Court.