WHITE FARMERS VERY SKEPTIC AS STARVING ZIMBABWEANS BEG THEM TO RETURN

 

 

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Article compiled  by: White Nation  correspondent Pretoria–May 12  2017

 

 

 

 

ZIMBABWE

 

CRISIS-HIT Zimbabwe is begging the white farmers they forcibly evicted in the first place- to return and reclaim their farms, as the Southern African nation’s economy continues to deteriorate.

 

While Mugabe is chartering a Boeing 767 to take him to Singapore to see an eye specialist- he’s country is on the brink of starvation. Airline insiders estimate the cost of the charter at more then R10 million at a time when Zimbabwe is in serious financial difficulties. This comes fifteen years after the Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean government seized large swaths of land from white farmers in the country – a move that saw a drastic deterioration in the country’s economy.

According to The Telegraph, Minister of Lands Douglas Mombeshora said provincial leaders had been tasked to come up with names of white farmers they wanted to remain on their farms. The farms should be “of strategic economic importance“. “We have asked provinces to give us the names of white farmers they want to remain on farms so that we can give them security of tenure documents to enable them to plan their operations properly,” Mombeshora said. The report said those who benefited from the land grabs will in future be expected to pay a small rental per acre, which will be used to pay compensation to evicted white farmers.

Fin24 reported late last year that Mugabe’s administration was willing to compensate white farmers and to clarify its indigenisation laws. News24 reports that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. Mugabe said the reforms were meant to “correct ” colonial land ownership imbalances. At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms. The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s “liberation struggle.” Critics of the reforms have blamed the program for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.

History repeats

The news comes as South Africa threatens to follow in Zimbabwe’s doomed footsteps in kicking white farmers off their land. South Africa is teetering on the brink of a race war after  Jacob Zuma called on parliament to pass a law allowing white-owned land to be “confiscated” by blacks without any form of compensation. The dictator’s comments caused outrage among white landowners, with the chairman of a national group for Afrikaans speaking farmers warning the new law will be “a declaration of war.” “We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”

The Telegraph report:  Zuma has lurched from one scandal to another since being elected to office in 2009, and has adopted a more populist tone since his ruling communist African National Congress (ANC) party suffered its worst election result last August since the end of the so-called “apartheid” in 1994. The party lost the economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital Pretoria and the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to the moderate Democratic Alliance party, which already held the city of Cape Town.

The ANC is also under pressure from the radical sub-terrorist Economic Freedom Fighters, led by despot Julius Malema.  Malema has been travelling the country urging black South Africans to take back land from “white invaders ” and “Dutch thugs”. He told parliament this week that his party wanted to “unite black people in South Africa” to expropriate land without compensation. “People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he said. Although progress has been made in transferring property to black South Africans, land ownership is falsely claimed to be in favor of whites more than 20 years after the end of “apartheid.”

Zuma’s comments caused outrage among groups representing Afrikaans speaking farmers on Friday. The Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, which claims to have 40,000 members, said its members would take land expropriation without compensation as “a declaration of war”. “We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”

 

*Former Zimbabwean commercial farmer, Ben Freeth, has written the attached open letter with regards to the ongoing issue of compensation for dispossessed farmers.

After 17 years, the compensation issue for jambanjad (taken over by force, often violently) commercial farms in Zimbabwe is back in the spotlight. We recently received information that John Laurie, a former president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union, had addressed an “Inaugural Stakeholders Meeting” with Government on 6 April at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare. The meeting catered for approximately fifty attendees and the agenda was only made available at the event. The meeting was chaired by the Government’s Permanent Secretary for Lands and Rural Resettlement, Grace Mutandiro.

For anyone reading this article who is not familiar with this term, a jambanja is a State-sponsored, threatening, intimidating and violent confrontation synonymous with the Zimbabwean farm invasions. The objective is to force white farmers and their workers off the land. During a jambanja, the police are not allowed to intervene or arrest anyone because those taking part will have prior State blessing and approval. Only one interest group, war veterans and ZANU (PF) supporters, is allowed to engage in a jambanja.

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During his address, Mr Laurie purported to be from a new organisation I hadn’t heard of until very recently, the Compensation Steering Committee (CSC). I have not seen the Constitution, the terms of reference or the mandate of this organisation, but Mr Laurie says that it is now the only body representing farmers.

I have to register my concerns:

Firstly, this new organisation is apparently conceding that there should be no compensation for the land. I object in the strongest possible terms to this concession.

One of the things we fought in the Southern African Development Community’s regional human rights court, the SADC Tribunal, was the right for compensation to the land. Taking the Zimbabwe Government to court was a very risky decision and my father-in-law, Mike Campbell, paid the ultimate price for standing on this fundamental principle. Our case was subsequently joined by 77 other dispossessed commercial farmers. Using International Law and the various Human Rights Conventions that Zimbabwe is signed up to, the Tribunal deliberated on this point. It found that there should be compensation for the land!  It gave a final and binding judgment to this effect.

I am therefore dumbfounded that Mr Laurie should make such a concession and claim to absolve the Government of its responsibilities. He told the meeting he accepted that there shouldn’t be compensation for land and stated that the Government is not responsible for paying compensation. His actual words were: “The value of the land which is not Governments responsibility has also to be assessed.” 

Commercial farmers who built up ranching or wildlife operations will be very severely compromised if they are not compensated for their land.

The Von Pezold case, which was heard at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), is of particular interest regarding what the international norms are in relation to what compensation should be paid.[ii]

Secondly, the CSC purports to represent all farming bodies (and “approx. 90% of the commercial farmers”) in negotiations with Government.

I can’t comment about other groups but I know for a fact that the Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance (SACFA) never endorsed the CSC – even though John Laurie stated at the Rainbow Towers Hotel that SACFA hadendorsed the CSC. I do not think the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) or any other groups would have endorsed CSC – and their policy to compromise on fundamental principle and go against the SADC Tribunal and International Law. It would be a sad day if they had! I maybe wrong, but I am dubious as to whether Mr Laurie has a single signed mandate from any farmers to negotiate on their behalf – and compromise on fundamental principle in relation to compensation for land.

Thirdly, if the CSC does represent 90% of the dispossessed farmers, where are their terms of reference?

If I were writing their terms of reference I would be very clear: the road to compensation must take in the full basket of international human rights breaches in the jambanja process. The human rights obligations that Zimbabwe is signed up to protect must be fully dealt with. International law must be brought into play. Comparable sales values with farms in the sub-region must be used to get a fair value for the land.

Fourth, we have a situation here where we as the dispossessed are purportedly being represented by the CSC which is negotiating with the very same thief – the Zimbabwe Government – that has dispossessed us.

This government has illegally stolen our businesses, livelihoods and homes, as well as those of our workers, wrecking countless lives and brutalising thousands in the process. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and the country’s agro-based economy has been destroyed. 

In our Mount Carmel farm case, the thief was the late Nathan Shamuyarira, a ZANU PF founding member and senior cabinet minister for 15 years. He sent thugs to the farm who burnt down our hay shed and safari lodge and relentlessly terrorised our families and workers. They also beat up a number of our workers very severely, some of whom were thrown into high security jails. Mr Shamuyarira subsequently stole all of our crops and equipment. In 2009, our homes were burnt to the ground and the entire Mount Carmel agricultural enterprise is now derelict. The government buried Mr Shamuyarira at Heroes Acre. Can negotiation be done in good faith with government people that have shown themselves to be so lawless?

Fifth, the thief in this case is also the judge. 

This government, which is manifestly corrupt and also completely broke, is not going to give us many cents in the dollar. It’s a bit like trying to play a rugby game where the referee grabs the ball from one of us, runs down the field giving yellow cards to anyone who tries to tackle him, and goes on to score the winning try. Playing a game where that is the case is not going to yield very much. The CSC, realising they might get a yellow card if they tackle the referee, is allowing this referee to score.

Sixth, Mr Laurie has described the Valuation Consortium database of each individual property and the moveable assets identified at the time of takeover as “a unique tool”.

Yet in his presentation, Mr Laurie states that “We would like to make this available to the Ministry free of charge the immovable asset register (sic) as at the time of acquisition.” Where is his mandate to do this?

Those who have read the story of Jacob and Esau back in Genesis will know how Esau sold his birthright to Jacob on account of being famished. He sold his entire inheritance as the elder son for a bowl of stew. I know that there are some desperate farmers who have done this already in Zimbabwe. I believe it is complete folly to encourage others to do likewise.

THE VON PEZOLD CASE

In July 2015, a tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ordered the Zimbabwe government to restore three agricultural estates seized as part of President Robert Mugabe’s “racially discriminatory” land reform programme to the von Pezold family. Alternatively, the government will have to pay US$196 million to the family which comprises dual German and Swiss nationals. The legal case was mounted against the Zimbabwe government for breaching the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) signed by Zimbabwe with both Germany and Switzerland. The agreements should have protected their business properties.

Note:

Extract: …While it is a rare remedy in ICSID cases, the tribunal held that restitution was not impossible or disproportionate and that it was the most appropriate type of relief based on the “racially discriminatory acts” suffered by the family. The tribunal held that the US$196 million will compensate the family for land and production losses if legal title to the farms is not restored. If it is, it said the state will only have to pay a third of the damages – US$65 million. Both sums include US$1 million in moral damages for one member of the family, whom the Zimbabwean police had failed to protect from death threats and physical violence by “settlers” on his farm. The award was one of two issued by the tribunal last July arising from the same arbitration hearing and containing the same reasoning. In the second award, which remains unpublished, the tribunal ordered Zimbabwe to return an estate owned by forestry company Border Timbers, of which the von Pezold family are majority shareholders, and pay US$125 million damages to the company and its subsidiaries. That award too included US$1 million moral damages.

 

THE DUTCH FARMERS’ CASE

In April 2009, a tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ordered the government of Zimbabwe to compensate a group of 13 Dutch nationals whose farms were expropriated under Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform program. The Dutch claimants in the case, Bernardus Henricus Funnekotter and Others v. Republic of Zimbabwe, said the government was complicit in the invasion of their land.  A Bilateral Investment Treaty signed with the Netherlands should have protected the Dutch investors. The initial compensation award was €8,2 million Euros (US$9,247 million) but by 2015 it had risen to US$25 million due to interest and costs of the protracted legal battle.

 

Invasions of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe began in the year 2000 and have continued ever since.  Compensation has not been forthcoming from the Zimbabwe Government, despite international arbitration awards – in some cases over 10 years ago.

Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe

Locally there is a realisation that until the farms are paid for, the title deeds will remain in the hands of the dispossessed farmers and that no real development can take place on those farms.

As a result of both international pressure and internal pressure on the Zimbabwe Government, some discussion regarding compensation has begun between the Zimbabwe Government and some sections of the farming community. There is concern that some of these discussions are being entered into without a mandate or terms of reference from the dispossessed farmers – many of whom are now scattered across the world, and that massive concessions are being made by those who have set themselves up as negotiators.

Most notable among these concessions is the concession that the Zimbabwe Government doesn’t need to pay for the land.

Ben Freeth, whose late father-in-law, Mike Campbell of Mount Carmel farm, took the Mugabe Government to the regional human rights court of the Southern African Development Community’s SADC Tribunal and won the case, expresses the concern of many of the farmers in the open letter informing dispossessed farmers of the concessions being made on their behalf.

Yours sincerely

BEN FREETH

YET SOMEHOW AFRICAN DESPOTS SUCH AS ZUMA AND MALEMA HAVE AS YET NOT LEARN FROM THEIR ZIMBABWEAN NEIGHBORS THAT FARMING JUST SIMPLY IS NOT A “SQUATTER-THING”- WHETHER IT IS FOR SCORING CHEAP POLITICAL BROWNIES OR NOT!”

 

http://www.biznews.com/africa/2017/05/11/land-expropriation-zimbabwe/

 

 

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