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War Veterans' Association spokesman Andrew Ndovu
We are freedom fighters
 real 28k

Commercial farmer Alf Jackson
They want the land
 real 28k

Monday, 6 March, 2000, 14:11 GMT
Points of view: Occupying farms

Land was the rallying cry during the independence struggle
Zimbabwe National War Veterans' Association spokesman Andrew Ndovu and farmer Alf Jackson give their views on the continuing occupation of white-owned commercial farms.

A veteran's view

Andrew Ndovu argues that the occupation of white farms in Zimbabwe is part of a struggle that was begun by freedom fighters in the bush in the 1970s.

"It is an ongoing process from the liberation war ... where we were fighting to free ourselves.

"Twenty years after independence, after freeing ourselves politically, we are just completing our struggle to take our country, and to free ourselves economically.

We are freedom fighters. We are freeing our people

"This land was grabbed from our forefathers after World War II. It was never bought. We are just taking back our land the same way that colonialism did."

Mr Ndovu denies that the government is orchestrating the campaign.

"We don't have anybody motivating us or compelling us to create such an atmosphere."

Farming is a struggle for many families on infertile plots of land
And he rejects any charges of racial bias against white farmers. He also says that the government has not told the War Veterans' Association to leave the farms and they intend to stay.

"We are freedom fighters. We are freeing our people," he says.

A farmer's story

White farmer Alf Jackson says the occupation of his farm by squatters has lost him and farmers like him lots of money.

"They arrived, chopped up branches and laid them across the road, then wired up our gates, to stop any of us getting in and out."

The worst thing is that they have disrupted the work that is going on

He said that up to 200 squatters were involved at one point and they were camped out on the lawn making fires and cooking.

"They said they were ex-combatants, but the bulk of the crowd were kids and women. They want the land."

About 200 farms have been occupied by squatters
He says that in his farm's case, the government has already agreed to buy the farm.

"We are just waiting for them to pay us.

"It was compulsorily acquired and valued ... I eventually accepted the offer - but they still haven't paid me.

"This has been going on for a very long time now."

He says that by far the worst thing about the occupation of the farm is the disruption to their normal work.

"We have lost about two shipments of roses now. We have lost anything up to 1m Zimbabwe Dollars [$25,000] worth of tobacco through not reaping and curing the crops."

He says that at first the local police refused to get involved, saying the situation was political.

"Then they were ordered to help keep law and order, and there has been a very small police presence here."

But he says he has little doubt about who is behind the campaign.

"The government itself is involved in a lot of these things. They have organised a lot of them. It is all arranged."

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