Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Out of Africa

Was Stuart MacGill right to boycott Zimbabwe? Decide for yourself after reading this article on the latest attacks on white farmers in the troubled country.

Here is one of the incidents described in the report,

Arthur and Ansy Swales, who grow maize in the Banket district, 60 miles north of Harare, said they had first been approached in 2002 by nuns from the Little Children of the Blessed Lady order, led by Sister Helen Maminimini and Sister Notvurgo, about using some land to help grow vegetables. The couple donated around 90 acres and helped the sisters prepare it, but said the nuns grew increasingly aggressive, demanding expensive equipment and more and more land.

Then last month the nuns gave the Swales 24 hours to leave the farm. The couple refused. Eleven days later a group of youths from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party arrived at midnight. "They went and woke up all the workers, and made them run and sing government songs," said Mrs Swales. "They forced the guards to open the barn gates so they could get to the equipment."

The farm is still being occupied, despite a condemnation of the sisters' actions by the local archbishop.

Another incident involved a 62 year old grandmother:

The latest victim of the renewed violence is a British grandmother, Pat Campbell, 62, who was beaten by a "security guard" wielding a stick and an AK47 rifle last week when she attempted to feed her cattle on her farm, 90 miles north of Harare. The farm has been allocated by the government to Lieutenant General Phillip Sibanda, commander of the Zimbabwe National Army and a former UN peacekeeper.

In the past four years 80% of white farmers in Zimbabwe have been driven from their land and it's thought that the latest attacks are part of a campaign by Robert Mugabe "to drive all whites out of Zimbabwe by the end of the year".

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