Sunday, January 16, 2005

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
When I wrote the first of these letters to family and friends back inFebruary 2000, I was a farmer. I have told the story of what happened onour farm before, and of some of the horrors on 3000 other farms that wereseized across Zimbabwe. In 2000, The Commercial Farmers Union, to whom Ipaid membership fees and crop and livestock levies, were supposed torepresent my interests as a farmer. As the weeks went past and I wroteabout the abuses being inflicted on my family, our employees and theirfamilies and our property and livestock, the CFU told me to stop makingwaves. The CFU said that I should not be confrontational with the rabblewho were pulling down fences, chopping trees and erecting shacks on ourfarm. The CFU said that I should engage in "dialogue" with drunk anddrugged men who came to the gate and demanded my car, ordered me to leavemy home or pointed a gun at me and threatened to shoot me. When I wrotenewspaper articles about what was happening to other farmers, the CFUwould have nothing to do with me. In confidence I was told that it hadbeen stipulated that my name was forbidden from being mentioned in any CFUmeetingsThe CFU have continued to attempt to appease the Zimbabwe government forthe last 59 months. When court orders were ignored, laws were changed andthe constitution was amended in relation to farms, still the CFU calledfor dialogue with the government. Farmers were murdered, tortured,abducted and arrested and the CFU said its dwindling membership shoulddownsize, share their land and talk to government officials. Hundreds,thousands and then hundreds of thousands of farm workers became homeless,destitute beggars living in the bush and the CFU still called for dialoguewith the government. A law was passed protecting squatters from evictionand another allowing government to compulsorily acquire farm materials andequipment but still the CFU said dialogue was the only way forward.Below are extracts from a letter written by the Midlands branch of theCFU. I would like to suggest that if the CFU have any money left over theywill donate it either to the team campaigning to free farmer and MP RoyBennett from prison or to some of the three hundred thousand farmers andfarm workers who have been made destitute by the Zimbabwean land reformprogramme. As a former farmer and onetime member of the CFU, I hang myhead in disgust and shame.CFU MIDLANDS"We have received a request to donate cattle, chickens and mealie meal toa welcoming reception next week for the new Vice President, Joyce Mujuru.This request has come to us through the Midlands Leadership ... I suggestthat each member pay in 1 million in cash to Bob at the CFU office by theend of business hours on Monday the 10th January 2005, as we need tosecure these donations from our sector by Wednesday the 12th. Eachindividuals name will be on the list of donors when we present thedonations so think hard before you do nothing. It is a strategy that Ibelieve will ultimately lead to benefits of sorts in the future. But itis like gambling. ... For those non-members I say to you all that unity isour best defense. This we are not, we all are to blame as we now findourselves divided and ruled. To change this we must change - unite andstick together and speak with one voice. When the time comes forsignificant changes to the current situation we have been pushed intokicking and screaming foul play, then more than ever the voices of thedivided will not be heard clearly and negotiations will be held from apoint of weakness. Is this what we want, choose for yourselves.........To end all I can safely say is that there is some activitycurrently in progress and I'm sure you will understand that this is atpresent too sensitive to disclose ........Your Chairman, TREVOR SHAW ANDOFFICE STAFF. P.S. Cash or Kind 1 ton Mealie Meal or Potatoes etc, 5Steers for slaughter, 100 Chickens. We need about 30 million forthis...."Until next week, with love, cathy Copyright cathy buckle 15th January 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.com/My books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: orders@africabookcentre.com ; http://www.africabookcentre.com/ inAustralia and New Zealand: johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au ; Africa:http://www.kalahari.net/ http://www.exclusivebooks.com/

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