Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe.
Dear Family and Friends,
A friend of mine recently had occasion to visit a commercial farm that had been seized by the government for re-distribution. Just five years ago every acre of the farm had been involved in intensive agricultural production. Eggs, tobacco, beef, maize and mutton had come off this land every year. Over 50 men had been employed on this farm less than five years ago and these men, with their wives, children and extended families had lived and thrived on this property. And now, my friend who visited this farm recently, said that what he had seen was so painful that it made his "heart sore with shame."
My heart is also sore to have to relate this story as I too knew this farm, this piece of land, the owners and many of the farm workers and their families who had made such a good life and living on this land.The boundary fences surrounding the property are mostly non existent, the wire stolen, the poles long since taken for fire wood. The chicken houses have been stripped, wire mesh gone, tin roofing sheets removed and all that remains is the concrete floors - cracked, chipped and with grass crawling through in tough runners. The farm house, my friend says, is"finished". The ceilings have gone. There is no longer electricity in the house; electrical wires and their conduits have literally been dug out of the walls, along with the wall plug sockets, light fittings and connections. Windows are just holes in walls as window frames and burglar bars have gone, chiseled out of the walls. There is no longer water in the house; the bathroom and kitchen geysers have gone, the stainless steel kitchen sinks have been removed and in the bathroom the taps have been taken. Outside, on the land, there is little activity. Aside from a few little scratches where rape and tomatoes are being tended near the dam, there is not much else going on. Big fields are unploughed, seed does not wait stacked in the sheds, fertilizer and chemicals are not piled in workshops.In less than two weeks Zimbabwe's rainy season will begin and tragically what my friend saw is not an isolated incident. The Governor of theReserve Bank is repeatedly pleading for massive increases in production on seized farms.
Vice President Joseph Msika keeps on threatening to remove farmers who are not using the land they were given but hints that this is a delicate process. Barely a month ago Vice President Joyce Mujuru said:"If you are not farming properly, this is sabotage at its highest level....We want farmers who work the land for maximum production, not incompetents and idlers who just sit and do nothing." Zimbabwe's main growing season is right now. Little is happening. In the supermarket this week piles of seed maize sits on the shelves. People cannot afford to buy it and have no no fuel to transport it.
People talk of how new farmers are becoming multi billionaires this October - they queue for their government fuel allocation which they buy at 30 000 a litre and then sell for 100 000 a litre on the black market. You certainly can't make that much money farming so why even bother?
Until next week,love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle, 29 October 2005. http:/africantears.netfirms.com