HARARE - Hardly a week goes by without incidents of farm seizures making headlines.
Sadly, most of the headlines are not about white Zimbabweans having their farms seized, but of black Zimbabweans being both the perpetrators and the victims.
The latest twist in Zimbabwe’s 14-year-old land occupation saga is nauseating.
It must be cause for considerable embarrassment for praise singers of land reform who insisted they were correcting historical imbalances by taking land from the whites and giving it to black Zimbabweans.
What are the legions of praise singers saying now as those same farms are taken from black occupiers by other black Zimbabweans who are better politically connected?
This new phase of farm seizures is painting Zimbabwe in a very bad light particularly because it is being undertaken by government officials.
Last week, Zanu PF’s Goromonzi MP made front page news after apparently mobilising former farm workers to try and stop a Mr Chauruka, the owner of a farm from taking occupation of his Bromley property.
Photographs showed a supporter of the MP physically fighting one of Chauruka’s employees; press reports described how others joined in the fighting using axes, stones and catapults which left several people injured.
One part of the story not being told in words but depicted graphically in the newspaper photograph of the incident is the stripped, run- down buildings in the background: roof timbers and iron sheets gone; a sad insight into the state of Zimbabwe’s farms 14 years after they were seized.
The other case in the headlines recently concerned the eviction of six families from Kilworth Farm near Norton on which the Clerk of Parliament has 244 hectares of land.
The Clerk of Parliament said the families were illegal settlers and he had a court order to evict them.
The people being evicted said they had each been allocated the five hectare plots 10 years ago but had now been pushed out and had their property dumped on the side of the road.
A damning quote by a Zanu PF district chairperson in the area spoke volumes about the very sad situation unfolding on Zimbabwe’s farms.
Mr Kawanzaruwa said: “How does a black person evict a black person? There is no one who is more important than the other… We all got this land for free, no one paid for land so how does one then have the power to chase others from the farm?”
Until the former owners and title deed holders, who did pay for their land, are compensated and the new occupiers are given title deeds, this sorry mess has no hope of being sorted out.
As we come and go from one election to the next and different people get into power, they too will want the pick of whichever farms take their fancy.
They will use their political clout to have people who have “permits”, “offer letters” or leases evicted and take what they want.
A case that illustrates exactly this situation made headlines a few weeks ago when five newly-appointed High Court Judges approached the ministry of Lands asking for farms to be allocated to them as an incentive.
Aside from the fact that giving farms to magistrates and judges would render them unable to make impartial judgments in land disputes, how can judges also be farmers?
And when more judges are appointed, will they also be allocated farms?
Title deeds are the only answer if Zimbabwe is ever to feed herself again.
When will it be time for Zanu PF to put a stop to what they started in February 2000?