Peta Thornycroft, Telegraph (London), Feb. 2, 2006
President Robert Mugabe has begun confiscating and vandalising white-owned property in Zimbabwe’s cities, after taking over most farms in the countryside.
His police last week evicted hundreds of people from their homes eight miles from the centre of Harare.
Ian Ross, 68, the owner of Gletwyn farm, incorporated into the capital in 1996, could hardly control himself as he recalled how police turfed his workers out into the rain.
“They arrived to evict the workers, which they did piece by piece, village by village compound by compound,” said Mr Ross.
“The workers were dumped. They moved into sheds, into chicken runs. They were living like rabbits.”
Mr Mugabe began violently evicting and dispossessing some 4,000 white farmers and hundreds of thousands of their workers in 2000. The whites were punished because the president said they supported and funded the opposition which almost beat him in the election that year.
But the campaign against his people escalated last winter when he sent bulldozers to flatten hundreds of thousands of small homes and markets in opposition areas in cities.
The United Nations said 2.4 million people were caught in Mr Mugabe’s “Clean out the Filth” campaign. Now his cronies and the police are wreaking havoc on a daily basis on Gletwyn.
The police say homes will be built homes there. This will benefit a property company, Divine Homes, whose chairman is the deputy finance minister, David Chapfika.
Divine Homes says it is selling state land, Gletwyn, in 600 plots without title deeds or planning permission. The “problem over title deeds will sort itself out when all this settles down”, said Washington Jengaenga, a Divine Homes executive.
John Worsley-Worswick, of Justice for Agriculture, said the takeovers were inevitable.
“This is the first full wholesale attack on a huge tract of land within the city limits,” he said. “This is not anarchy by default. It has been well designed. No property is safe. They have nearly finished off the farms so they have to move to towns and cities.”
Mr Ross was so disturbed by the latest attack on his workers that this week he won a court injunction restraining police. They were ordered to leave the workers alone and dismantle their barricades. But they were still in place three days later.
Divine Homes’ earth-moving equipment now pounds across Gletwyn’s 1,800 acres, chewing up fields, upending trees, destroying bore hole pumps, pipes and reservoirs.
“If I go, it will be in a box,” Mr Ross said before driving off down a muddy track.