The situation in the country at the moment is very volatile, it is not clear at the moment whether this fresh detrimental directive is from the president. Heavily armed Zimbabwean riot police this week besieged the property of a white commercial farmer, Robert Smart outside Rusape town and forcefully evicted him from his farm.
President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth and suspected members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation were also present during the eviction.
Workers at Lesbury Farm, about 26km west of Rusape, alleged that police fired live ammunition and teargas to disperse the labourers and villagers who had gathered at the farm in solidarity with Smart.
Some of the workers and villagers alleged that they were assaulted by the police, but no serious injuries were recorded.
One of the security guards at the farm, Reuben Chimombe, stated that the police officers and Zanu-PF youths ransacked Smart’s farmhouse before removing all the household property and throwing it on the roadside about 200m away.
“They (the police and Zanu-PF youths) ordered some of the villagers to slaughter a goat and prepare a meal for them while they removed Smart’s property from the farmhouse. Nothing is left in the farmhouse but we are going to sleep here in the open guarding our employer’s property,” said Chimombe.
Another farmworker, who identified himself as Innocent Chisasa, said the violent nature of Smart’s eviction was reminiscent of the ugly scenes seen at the height of Mugabe’s land reforms in 2000 when thousands of white commercial farmers and their employees were displaced.
“We were shocked when the police arrived and started to assault some of the farm workers and villagers using baton sticks. We do not want Smart to leave this farm because his family has been here since the 1930s. We see him as our brother and he has been spearheading all the development in this area, including using his own resources to repair the roads, building a school and ensuring that there are books in classes,” said Chisasa.
As the journalists were being whisked away by the police, Smart’s son, Darrell, could be heard pleading with some of the police details to return a walkie-talkie communication radio that the police had seized from him.
One of the police officers, who seemed to sympathise with him asked him where he was going to spend the night.
“We are going to sleep in the open, cold as it is; we have nowhere to go,” said Darell in reply.