Through the eyes of a legislator, commercial farmer and patriot.
By: Roy Bennett - Member of Parliament for Chimanimani (MDC) Zimbabwe
6 July 2002
The time has come for each and every Zimbabwean to stand up and be counted.
All of us are visitors in Gods country and all of us historically entered Zimbabwe through different ways and means, that the Bushmen who are now extinct were here before the Black people and that the Asians in their different sects and religions, the White’s in their different sects and religions, and the union of all three the coloured people now make up the population of Zimbabwe is fact, and an irreversible act of God.
Each an every one of us have rights as people and all choose a path to walk along, every one of us have had some form of religious teachings and cultural up bringing to know the difference between right and wrong.
Politics drive a nation and form the Government.
Good Governance and Democracy develop a country and its people prosper and poverty is eradicated.
Bad Governance and Oppression destroy a country and its people committed forever to poverty.
I have chosen my path to be involved in the politics of our nation to bring about change for good governance in the interest of the Nation and its people I would term myself a PATRIOT.
I am a Christian and believe in the word of God by which I try to live my life.
I as have many Zimbabweans through the decades, sacrificed personally for my beliefs.
That I am white does not make me above anyone else or too special to risk my life and family and or worldly possessions to stand by what is right with the majority of Zimbabweans.
I was humbly elected by the people of Chimanimani to represent them in Parliament, I knew full well the ramifications involved taking on a repressive ZANU PF regime, as did the people who voted me in and we as a district have equally been targeted and harassed for our beliefs I am not seen as a white commercial farmer but as a fellow Zimbabwean, and as long as the people want to use me to represent them for nationalism change and good governance I will never go back no amount of intimidation oppression or threats will work
I moved around the country in the white commercial farming and business circles speaking to and advising people to commit themselves as nationalists and stand by for what is right for the nation and people of Zimbabwe, it was necessary to do this as for 20 years ZANU PF had through intimidation made whites believe that they should never get involved in politics, my message was do you belong, is this your country do you owe the country and the people anything if so contribute in any way you can for a positive change for better governance and democracy.
I am proud to say that the response was overwhelming and people committed themselves and took a stand as Zimbabweans, there is no doubt that this commitment very definitely played a very crucial role in assisting the opposition get as far as it has in Zimbabwe today.
The current Zimbabwean Government is comprised of 2 political parties The Ruling Party and the Opposition, the Opposition having been formed by committed nationalists, the majority former members of the ruling party
The Ruling Party has been in power for 22 years, and history tells us that they have not dealt very kindly with any form of opposition and successfully destroyed the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union through the Gukurahundi era and by sucking them into a Government of National Unity and destroying them as an opposition force. They then had a 2/3rds majority in Parliament and proceeded to change the constitution a number of times and rule the country as ZANU PF (PVT) LTD.
It suited ZANU PF (PVT) LTD to use all people of Zimbabwe across all racial divides to enrich them as long as they did not get involved in Politics.
The same people formed the opposition, which encompassed all racial groups, and ZANU PF (PVT) LTD was seriously challenged and unless they did something drastic their hold on power and enrichment was about end.
There is absolutely no doubt and the facts are there for all to see the Land issue and Race issue was evilly used by ZANU PF to destroy any support for the opposition and destroy or intimidate any body linked to them, this is self evident in the referendum to change the constitution.
The unfolding and continuous nightmare still exists what is happening to white commercial farmers and businesses is happening to millions of rural and urban Zimbabweans who have dared stand up to ZANU PF (PVT) LTD to say whites should never get involved in politics but should stand by and watch evil prevail as long as they are left alone to make money has to be a supremacist/expatriate attitude, everything that anybody has made from the soil or labour of Zimbabwe is owed to that country and its people if all those that have made huge fortunes from our Nation had utilised some of those resources and energy to assist the majority of Zimbabweans out of poverty ZANU PF would never have been able to oppress the people as it has.
The facts of the land is that anyone who has any contact with the rural folk would know that to them land is a minor issue, the majority of rural folk have land, the real issue is poverty. The majority of rural Zimbabweans in congested rural areas are living in abstract poverty because government has never delivered and they are worse off today than they have ever been, the most poverty stricken being those resettled in the last 20 years for no other reason other than they have had no support or infrastructure, there are a small number of success stories being those done with the right support and infrastructure given.
A good example of a successful resettlement programme is the Nyamakati Resettlement Scheme between Karoi and Makuti assisted by the German Government the scheme’s success is self evident, virgin bush was reverted into a thriving agrarian centre economically empowering people.
The reason for this success was that it was done with the right support and infrastructure, and because it was virgin bush it required committed hard working farmers and not political opportunist’s seeing a thriving successful farming enterprise producing for the nation, forcefully acquiring it to turn into a broken down shambles, and for this there is proof one only needs to visit the very fertile Glendale farming area to see the farms of ministers and Vice Presidents lying derelict.
How many congested rural folk have been resettled, where are the Chiefs involvement in resettling their people? How many Chefs multiply own farms. Have resettled people produced anything of what the properties they have taken over produced, surely agrarian land reform you do not take away productive land and make it un productive, my own property is a prime example and is a microcosm of Zimbabwe as a whole.
In May 2000 during the lead up to parliamentary elections my property was illegally besieged by ZANU PF activists. They occupied the property, assaulted and threatened my family and employees, stole and abused all my vehicles, irrigation equipment, killed and butchered 8 head of cattle, broke into looted and occupied my residence damages amounted to then forty million Zimbabwe dollars all in the name of land invasion, these people were then arrested after the elections and we returned to normal farming operations.
We had ploughed disked and limed ready to plant 50 Ha of Coffee and 50 Ha of maize. The land prep and inputs for this costing ZWD 936423.00 a coffee nursery ready to plant out at a cost of ZWD 360750.00 all this replaced by a fine crop of weeds.
DDF tractors arrived and a total of 48 plots were ploughed. 12 over land that had already been prepared and the rest in Giant Rhodes grass pastures that had been fertilised for hay to harvested for winter-feed. Of the 48 plots ploughed only 24 were planted and of the it was difficult to see the maize for weeds if a total of 20 tones of maize were reaped it would have been a generous estimate most being sold to my workers on the farm as our 100 tones stock of ration maize had been impounded by the GMB using armed soldiers to plunder our storage shed and load GMB trucks to date I have not received any payment.
We would have yielded in the region of 400 to 500 tones of maize and the coffee would have returned 150 tones of coffee in 2003 grossing USD 200 000 foreign exchange into our reserve bank.
I was prevented using ½ of the farm where my Giant Rhodes grass pastures are for 1200 head of cattle ZWD 2 800 000 in fertilisers were put on the pastures, these lands have been barely used by anyone else and I was prevented from mowing and bailing hay by armed soldiers, we were also prevented using the paddocks on the mountains and that grazing has become rank and useless from lying idle, I run a beef herd of 1200 head, this last week I had the first 12 deaths from poverty and we still have the winter to get through, do I stand and watch the cattle die while half the farm has untouched grazing.
Charleswood Estate was granted Export Processing Zone Status and issued an E.P.Z. License, which fall under the EPZ Act. This was for a state of the arts Coffee Mill and has two external investors involved, who were guaranteed no state interference through the Export Processing Zone Act. There are two joint Zimbabwe Investment Centre projects on the farm both of them with external partners, the one Mawenje lodge a 12 bed tourist lodge, the other a contracting company with considerable investment in contracting machinery both invested in Zimbabwe with guarantees from Government both projects now at a stand idle because of ZANU PF (PVT) LTD.
On Charleswood Estate we employ 200 permanent employee’s and 1200 contract/seasonal workers run 1200 head of cattle, 50 ha of maize 210 ha of coffee and 150 ha of pastures an annual foreign exchange earnings of 1 500 000 US when in full production and all this to be destroyed for nothing in exchange.
This is what is happening nation wide there are no landless being resettled most are state employee’s ordered onto farms to loot and take what they want with guarantees of no repercussions and ZANU PF have hidden the truth with the assistance of the farming bodies mentioned above.
No Zimbabwean in his right mind would oppose any form of Agrarian Land reform that empowers people economically keeping the land productive or better still making it more productive.
Can anyone in their right mind advocate working with the government of the day ZANU PF (PVT) LTD, and be part and parcel to the destruction of our nation and the severe hardships that will follow I challenge anyone to be able to say "I did what I could in any little way that I could to stop the destruction to our Nation.
"ZANU PF (PVT) LTD WILL GO!!!! ANY LITTLE THING WE CAN DO WILL ACCELERATE THEIR DEMISE AND RETURN ZIMBABWE TO PEOPLES POWER FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE HELPING OUR COUNTRY MOVE FORWARD. UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.