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Besiged Zimbabwe White Farmer Seeking International Help

FILE: Ben Freeth of the Mike Campbell Foundation on the floor at the Zimbabwe hearing in USA.
FILE: Ben Freeth of the Mike Campbell Foundation on the floor at the Zimbabwe hearing in USA.

A Mashonaland Central farmer, Phillip Rankin, is still under siege after his land in Centenary was invaded by supporters of a British-based doctor, Sylvester Nyatsuro.

According to Ben Freeth of SADC Tribunal Rights Watch, the Rankin family, which has a tobacco crop worth more than $360,000, is distressed by the farm invasion.

“They are basically in a situation for weeks on end they have to go through this kind of trauma where they don’t know what’s gonna happen from one minute to the next,” said Freeth.

He said the family has been under siege for more than two weeks now at the farm where Dr. Nyatsuro’s relatives and friends are doing what they like.

He said this is bound to dent the image of Zimbabwe. “It’s very sad that this lawlessness is just continuing and so long as lawlessness continues in Zimbabwe the image of Zimbabwe will continue to be dented.”

Freeth said the Rankin family, which has strong Christian beliefs, wants to live in peace with everyone. “It’s very difficult on how to help them at this stage … It’s very difficult when people come to take away your home, take away your livelihood and take away your crops.”

Dr. Nyatsuro was not available for comment as his lawyer, Stephen Pearson of Freeths LLP Solicitors in Nottingham, was not responding to calls as he was said to be busy.

A property belonging to the Zimbabwean government was auctioned in Cape Town, South Africa, last month to pay for legal costs incurred by white farmers in their bid to get compensation for their farms that were forcibly taken by the government during the land reform program that began in 2000.

According to AfriForum, a South African-based human rights group, the sale was a result of the organisation’s success in assisting dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers to enforce a 2008 ruling by the Southern African Development Tribunal, which found that the appropriation of the farmers’ land without compensation was unlawful, racist and in contravention of international law.

The country’s land reform program has been blamed for challenges in the agricultural sector and general decline of the Zimbabwe economy, which at one stage registered historical hyperinflation.

Interview With Ben Freeth of the SADC Rights Watch
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