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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Diary of a Zimbabwean farmer - part I
Colin Shand,  photo by Declan Walsh of the Irish Times
Colin Shand has worked on his farm for 38 years
White Zimbabwean farmer Colin Shand tells BBC News Online of developments on his farm after he decided not to comply with a deadline to leave his home at midnight on Thursday or face arrest.

Friday 16 August, 1400 local time (1200GMT)

Good afternoon. Well, as expected yesterday was scare tactics.

Nothing happened, no visits.

Information received this morning that a few big shots arrived yesterday and told the settlers they had better not disturb me.

I have just had a phone call from the officer in charge, Concession Police Station, and he his coming to see me.

Will keep you posted.


Thursday 15 August, 2200 local time (2000GMT)

Good Evening, a bit late, as I had to go and collect my papers in Harare today, that is my Notice of Withdrawal from the Courts which means that I am legally allowed to stay on my farm and farm it, but who gets the Settlers off is the big question?

A bit of a scare this morning, I received information that the settlers were going to come and try and evict me today and was advised to stay in Harare, but returned at 4.30 pm.

President Robert Mugabe
Land reform is Mugabe's main policy

All quiet. My staff left the security fence at 5.30 pm and I have been waiting, but nothing.

I think this is their scare tactics, but am a bit concerned after what I hear happened in Bindura which is not far, only about 50 km away.

I don't know what is going to happen, that is the worst part, I am getting a bit despondent at this stage and think that we are wasting our time.

Just wish we could be paid out and start again.

Well am going to try and get to bed.

Speak to you to-morrow


Wednesday 14 August, 2130 local time (1930GMT)

I have just received a phone call from lawyers in Harare stating that we won our case today.

This means that I am legally allowed to occupy my farm and allowed to farm. Ludicrous that I have to go to court to get permission to occupy my own farm.

The problem is that I will probably receive another Section 5 and 8 (eviction orders). But that will now give another four and half months, but it is just a delaying tactic and the settlers are not prepared to listen to this as they state they are the law.

Tomorrow I will pick up the necessary documentation and deliver it to the police and DA (District Administrator) and see what difference it makes.


Wednesday 14 August, 1430 local time (1230GMT)

Good afternoon, went to the DA (District Administrator) this morning for my meeting and gave him my letter explaining why I had not left my farm.

Nothing done about it, he accepted it but I fear he has to take it higher up, he cannot make a decision.

So we wait in anticipation to see what is the next development. Otherwise all quite on my farm, I hope it remains this way.


Tuesday 13 August, 1000 local time (0900GMT)

Good morning, well no good news on the speech except that the president did say that no farmer will go without land and one farmer one farm, so I look forward to my meeting tomorrow with the district administrator.

I don't know if we are going to have trouble today or not.

One thing I would like to say, is that while commercial farmers are said to have the best land, it is because we treat our land with agriculture lime regularly and keep our PH's up to the recommended rate and not just grow crop year after year, hence my rotation crop of katambora grass and tobacco.

When the settlers came here in April 2001, the first thing they did was to burn all the land including katambora grass that was due for reaping and worth many thousands of US$.

Consequently, they reaped no crops off my farm this last year and we received 24 inches of rain and my dams were full by November and are still full now.

You cannot farm without fertiliser!


Monday 12 August, 0900 local time (0700GMT)

Good morning, a peaceful night no problems.

We are waiting in anticipation for the president's speech this morning and hope that we are not going to have a repeat of last year. I am still adamant if they want my farm, I must be paid compensation before I move. Speak to you later.


Sunday 11 Aug, 1000 local time

Well Sunday morning, all nice and peaceful, except that my borehole motor was stolen yesterday, which is worth about 150,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$2,800).

I understand the settlers were involved, which means that insurance won't pay out.

This just adds to my trouble as I will not have any water now. I have reported the theft to the police, but doubt anything will come of it.

I have just had a visit from the district administrator who asked why I was still in my house.

I told him I had no house to go to and that I had no money for rent.

I also said I had a letter from my lawyer stating that all the Section 8s (eviction orders) were null and void, and also that I only had one very small farm.

He instructed me to put it in writing and deliver it to him as soon as possible. A very amicable meeting.

Things are looking up. Will speak to you later.


Saturday 10 Aug, 1300 local time

I was called to a meeting by the settlers at my farm at midday. The meeting discussed an incident on Tuesday night and the letter that I wrote to them about damage to my vehicle.

They wanted a list that I had received in regards to the settlers on my farm.

Then a Zanu-PF vehicle arrived with approximately six people.

They told me that I had no right to address a meeting and was not meant to be there.

They told to me to go and get the list and not come back.

I have given them the list of names and my statement to the police as I don't think they are aware of what happened on Tuesday night.

At the moment I am staying in my house and have locked the security gates and have the keys.

The meeting is going on at the moment.

I am expecting some journalists but I don't think it will be a good idea if they arrive.

Hope to speak to you later.


Friday 9 Aug, 1930 local time

I delivered my letter from my lawyers to the member in charge at Concession police station. He accepted it and stated that many farmers had given him these letters.

Whether this means that we won't be visited I don't know. We will have to wait and see.

I went to see the lawyers of Zanu-PF this afternoon to get a form to see what it was about. No lawyer was available to see me and all forms had run out.

Zanu-PF supporters
Zanu-PF supporters arrived at a meeting at Mr Shand's farm

The secretary phoned the lawyer and asked whether I had a Section 8 (eviction order). I confirmed this.

She said that the lawyers had met with the Lands Commission and Vice President Joseph Msika.

She told me to come back on Wednesday.

I asked what about my being arrested tomorrow. She just repeated: "Come back on Wednesday."

Interesting situation, we will have to wait and see.

The police came to my farm and saw the settlers and were informed they were have having a meeting tomorrow. No arrests have been made as of yet.

I informed the police I was prepared to drop all charges if the settlers were instructed by the police to leave me alone and not hassle me and let the law take its course.

Am going to stay in my house and watch the Cricket (if it stops raining) and the All Blacks being beaten by South Africa on Saturday.


Friday 9 Aug, 1200 local time

Still quiet.

I'm just going to take the court order declaring my eviction null and void to the local police station.

Let's see what they have to say...


Friday 9 Aug, 0020 local time

As of now we are over the deadline by 20 mins!!!

All things are quiet. No army or police have been seen.


I am not prepared to walk away and leave what I have worked 38 years for

I received my court order this afternoon stating that my Section 8 (eviction order) was null and void. So I have that and will hand it to any officials who come and see me tomorrow.

As far as I am concerned I am the legal occupier of my farm as the court says, but whether the people on the ground will accept this we will have to see.

If the police come, I will show them the court order. But if they arrest me and put me in jail, I will go.

Have heard of a meeting this afternoon by lawyers of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, who have made some offer to farmers at the 11th hour. I will be picking up one of these forms tomorrow and taking it to my lawyers to find out what it is about.

I had a meeting with the officer in charge at Concession police station this morning and handed my statement and was under the impression that the settlers that attacked me on Tuesday night were going to be arrested, but so far no one has been arrested.


Thursday 8 Aug, 1700 local time

We are expecting a lot of trouble this weekend. It's a holiday weekend - four days. I am feeling nervous but there is nothing else I can do.

If the government paid compensation, I would take the money and go.

But right now, I have no money to go anywhere.

My wife has gone to stay with my daughter in England and will be there for three months.

I insisted that she go as it would be stupid for us both to be in trouble.

I was born in Zimbabwe on 11 November 1944 and have been farming since 1964.

In 1981 I bought a small dairy farm in Chipinge.

In 1985 I bought Glendevon Farm in Concession.

It is a tobacco farm and since I had always farmed tobacco, I was very pleased about buying it.

It had belonged to my father-in-law, who bought it as a virgin farm in 1948 and built it up from nothing.

He did not inherit or steal it, he bought it.

I bought it from him after it was valued at $160,000, which I raised by selling my Chipinge Farm.

I repeat - I did not inherit it. I have a sale sheet to prove it.

My wife was born on this farm in 1950.

Her great-grandfather was a pioneer to this country in 1896, so my grandchildren are 6th-generation Zimbabweans.

Change

Our only problem is that we are white.

Three generations of my family are buried in my garden.

People queuing for food in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe faces mass starvation
In the 1999/2000 season, my farm produced 153,400 kg of tobacco and 720 tonnes of maize and grossed around US$350,000.

I am not prepared to walk away and leave what I have worked 38 years for.

On 27 April 2001, I received my first Section 5 which notified me that my farm was listed and was being acquired by government.

I appealed to the courts because the government says it will acquire farms whose owners have several properties, are absentee landlords or foreigners, which are not productive, or which are next to communal areas.

On 29 June 2001, I received my 2nd Section 5.

I objected on the same grounds.

Meanwhile in April, my farm was resettled and pegged and approximately 35 families moved on and took all the land.

I was stopped farming.

I now have around 160 squatters on my farm.

The farm has not produced any crops whatsoever except for about 2,000 kg of tobacco.

To produce this, they pinched my gum trees and used my barns and my electricity to cure it.

We have not received any income since May/June 2001.

But we are refusing to leave with nothing.

On 5 July 2002 I received my Section 7 order (giving 45 days to vacate the property).

Again, I have appealed and it is currently with the courts.

Threats

On 6 August 2002, I was returning to my farm at 2115. and was confronted by about 70 persons who I have established were settlers from my farm.

They had put a log over the road by my security gate in front of my house.

When I stopped, they advanced towards me and were all armed with axes, sticks and iron rods.

They did not say anything but as I reversed to get away, they started hurtling rocks, axes and pieces of metal at my truck.

If I had stopped I would most certainly have been killed.

I feared for my life and managed to get to the police station.

Two hours later, the police came back with me to my farm and I managed to get into my house and the police defused the situation.

I was warned by the settlers in front of the police that I would be in serious trouble if I did not leave my house by 10 August.

No one has been arrested for the crime.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Farmer Colin Shand talks to BBC News Online
"I'm not leaving until I get some form of compensation"

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25 Jun 02 | Africa
18 Jul 02 | Africa
09 Jun 00 | Africa
11 Jul 02 | Africa
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