Ten white farmers appeared in court in Zimbabwe yesterday accused of growing crops on their land — in a country where millions of people will need food aid within the next few months ...
Since 2000, when the government began seizing white-owned farms, many of them violently, the agricultural sector has collapsed and the economy has gone into freefall, with inflation now at 6,600 per cent, the highest in the world.
The World Food Programme estimates that it will be feeding 4.1 million Zimbabweans, one third of the population, by the end of the year.
Now the Chegutu group is charged with violating the Consequential Provisions Act, which gave the few hundred remaining white farmers a final deadline of Sep 30 to leave their land and homes.
The farmers ... have already given two-thirds of their farms to the government for resettlement ... They pleaded not guilty and face up to two years in prison if convicted ...
Didymus Mutasa, the lands minister, has said that the few hundred remaining white farmers will be forced out, one way or another.
"The position is that food shortages or no food shortages, we are going ahead to remove the remaining whites," he said recently. "Too many blacks are still clamouring for land and we will resettle them on the remaining farms."
In fact many farms were given to members of the government and their cronies, and one minister has admitted that the new farmers have failed in their cultivation efforts.
Outside the court, the scruffy shops of Chegutu were empty of basic foods, and street vendors sold small, sour oranges.
They came from a once-prolific citrus farm in the district now devastated after it was seized by Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, earlier this year.
So the situation in Zimbabwe is this: the last remaining whites are being driven from their farms, the land is being redistributed to government cronies, leaving a third of the population dependent on international charity.
Zimbabwe has descended to the depths in a single generation and South Africa, which is plagued now by violent crime, corruption and attacks on white farmers, isn't far behind.
The lesson is that you can't take your security, your prosperity or even your civilisation for granted. We don't live in the kind of world in which you can hand over power and expect to be treated justly.