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Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 10:18 UK

'We are under siege'

Zimbabwe liberation war veterans in March 2000

As Zimbabweans wait for the outcome of the presidential vote, some of the country's remaining white farmers have reported incidents of harassment by "war veterans" in scenes that seem to echo the land invasions in 2000. This woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, tells her story.

I live with my parents, my husband and our young child on our farm in Masvingo province.

At about 1500 on Saturday a group of about 50 people - I can only describe them as thugs - arrived at the gates of our farm.

They said they were "war veterans" but they obviously did not fight in the war leading up to independence (in 1980) because they looked too young.

It was orchestrated from very high up

They threatened to repossess our land and confiscate all our farm equipment. They said we could leave but only with a suitcase.

I have no doubt that their action was orchestrated from very high up, because some of our friends who live on neighbouring farms said they had experienced the same treatment.

I know they are just "rent-a-mob" who have been paid to intimidate us.

The people at the gates started singing and "toi-toying" (military-style traditional dancing). They carried on throughout the night.

They seized our farm labourers and harassed them with verbal threats about how they were working for the whites. Luckily we have quite vicious dogs which deterred them from approaching our house.

The next morning a bus came at about 0545 and collected them.

Everything then went quiet until at about 2100 a smaller group of about 10 people arrived. They started singing Zanu-PF songs and slogans.

Map of Zimbabwe showing Masvingo province

After many attempts to contact them, the police finally arrived at about 0100 on Sunday and arrested five people.

But at about 0830 on Monday morning they returned. This time there were about 75 people. They remained on the outskirts of our farm - about 60 metres from our farmhouse. We stayed inside.

They abducted some of our workers. Again we contacted the police support unit and when they arrived, they made two arrests and dispersed the crowd.

It has become relatively quiet now but there are many rumours flying about.

Intimidation

It has been very difficult to sleep. We were under siege. At least one of us has to stay awake to keep an ear to the ground in case something happens.

The last three nights have been terrible. It has been a type of psychological intimidation to try to wear us down.

It is sad that those who have born the brunt of this have been our farm workers.

My father is in his sixties and some of his workers have been here for more than 40 years.

It is very reminiscent of what happened here in 2000 when a lot of land was grabbed. Then it was even more aggressive than what is happening now.

We had to get rid of a lot of our land so that we have only a small area now.

Members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association February 2000.
War veterans were a powerful force in 2000
In 2000, this area around where we live was the first place to be targeted by the "war veterans" and then the land invasions spread like wild fire to other parts of the country.

So perhaps a similar thing will happen again.

The difference between the events of 2000 and now is that there are so few farmers left that we don't see the point in any more land invasions.

I mean what is the point of it? What message can it possibly send?

As we wait to hear what will happen about the elections, we are anxiously hoping for change.

We hope there is a return to the rule of law but we fear that martial law will be imposed and the government will deploy the army.

'Mugabe's plan'

We went to vote on 29 March but my mother and I found that our names had been taken off the voters' roll for some reason.

There had not been any intimidation up until 29 March, so perhaps now Zanu-PF realised that it has not worked and they are trying the tactic this time.

I think Mugabe definitely has a plan up his sleeve.

The opposition got a foot in the door and he did not like that so this is the start of a backlash against the remaining white farmers.

I saw someone from Zanu-PF on television saying that they had so far only used about 25% of their power so now they would come out and use the remaining 75%.

We also heard that one young white farm manager has been abducted and several others have been harassed.

We feel extremely isolated. We hear that the MDC want the United Nations to step in before there is bloodshed.




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