Thursday, January 29, 2009

'It's a nightmare'

Harare - A South African farmer in Zimbabwe had to slaughter 1 000 of his pigs and feed the meat to crocodiles because farm invaders had decided that no pig feed would be allowed on the farm.

Louis Fick has been farming with pigs, crocodiles, cattle, fish and grain near Chinhoyi since 1993.

He said the last of 3 500 pigs will be finished off within weeks, while all his cattle had already been killed.

This is partly due to the ban on animal feed and partly because the senior Reserve Bank official who had seized the farm in July 2007 was limiting Fick's farming activities to 5ha of the 400ha farm.

Nothing was happening on the rest of the land, said Fick from Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Going to approach SADC tribunal
He is part of a group of farmers who will now once again approach the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal to try and force President Robert Mugabe's government to reinstate their ownership of expropriated farms.

On 28 November the tribunal ruled in Windhoek, Namibia that the expropriation of the farms of 78 farmers was illegal, but Fick said thus far no SADC country has been prepared to help enforce the ruling.

Zimbabwe has rejected the judgment.

Fick and Deon Theron, deputy president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) of Zimbabwe, said on Wednesday they were going to request the tribunal to rule Zimbabwe in contempt of the judgment.

'No urgency'
"In the long-term Zimbabwe will have to honour the judgment, but in the short-term it is very frustrating," Fick said.

"There is no urgency among the (SADC) countries to attend to the matter. We are in constant contact with the South African government through the embassy (in Harare), but we're not getting any feedback."

In the meantime the campaign against the farmers is intensifying.

Fick said prominent employees of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank were increasingly targeting farms.

On his farm the new owner prohibited the supply of animal feed for the first time in April last year, and then again since last week.

Farmers forbidden to plant
"They are making it incredibly difficult and are in effect allowing no feed.

"We have to throw the feed over high security fences and then load it onto vehicles, but then they lock up the vehicles so that we can't move. It's not fair towards the animals. Fortunately I can feed the pigs to the crocodiles.

In its heyday, the farm as an integrated enterprise supported 3 500 pigs, 12 000 crocodiles, 1 500 cattle and a fish hatchery. Eighty hectares had been planted with wheat and soya.

Theron said most of the remaining 300 white farmers were currently being forbidden to plant and the persecution of farmers who refused to stop farming was continuing.

"It's a nightmare."

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