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Correspondent Friday, 14 February, 2003, 10:48 GMT
Forced to flee
Correspondent shows a first hand account of one family's struggle to defend their land and their lives against government supporters in Zimbabwe.

Until the late 90s, Iain and Kerry Kay and their five children lived a happy and prosperous life on their 5000 hectare farm in Zimbabwe.

The farm supported 500 people, workers and their children, and boasted a school, a pub, a women's club and a health worker.

Kerry Kay
Kerry Kay: Determined to remain in Zimbabwe
But government land reforms in the late 90s shattered their world.

The President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, pledged to give white-owned farms to the black rural poor in order to right the wrongs of British colonialism.

Squatters were encouraged to take over the farms by force, using intimidation and violence.

On the 3rd April 2000 Iain Kay became the first farmer to be attacked.

Lucky escape

Using their DV camera, the family filmed events as they unfolded. They always believed that this was not about land, but an attempt by Robert Mugabe to crush political opposition.

Iain Kay was a keen opposition supporter - as was the first white farmer to be killed, David Stevens.

Youths stone the Kay's vehicle
Danger loomed on every farm track
White farmers were being punished along with hundreds of black Zimbabweans for not supporting President Mugabe.

The camera became a weapon against Mugabe's private army as it attempted to drive them off their land.

But in March 2002 they were forced to flee.

Country in ruins

The Kays' footage was was smuggled out of the country over several months.

Their intimate, first-hand account of the downfall of Zimbabwe also tracks the fate of the 500 workers from their farm.

Whatever Mugabe's true motives for land reform, their film shows the worst affected to be the black rural classes, the very people Mugabe vowed to help.

1.5 million people dependent on the farms have lost their jobs and their homes.

Hundreds of thousands are fleeing over its borders to escape economic collapse, famine and political persecution.

We look forward to our new Zimbabwe

Kerry Kay
Oppressive media laws prevent local and international journalists investigating the full extent of what is going on. It is now against the law in Zimbabwe to criticise Mugabe or the state.

Even landless Mugabe supporters who violently took over the farms are now being moved off to make room for the President's more important cronies - members of the military, the police and the business community.


In Zimbabwe 90% of commercial farming has come to a standstill, helping to precipitate economic crisis and famine where only a few opportunists and the wealthy survive.

Most scandalous of all, the government is actively denying international food aid to those perceived to be opposition supporters.

This month the EU will decide whether to renew its travel ban on Mugabe and various members of Zimbabwe's ruling elite.

Members of the Commonwealth will also decide whether or not to lift Zimbabwe's suspension.

The Kays are passionate about the country they call home. They are determined to remain in Zimbabwe.

Tractor tows workers to the fields
The lives of 500 people are directly affected
Kerry says: "Once you're born and bred in Africa, it's in your blood."

At the end of 2002, the family travelled to South Africa to do interviews for Correspondent. They are now back in Zimbabwe and staying in rented accommodation.

As Zimbabwe plunges in to ever deeper crisis Kerry Kay continues to hope that change will come.

She says: "We look forward to our new Zimbabwe and it's going to be the jewel of Africa, without any shadow of a doubt."

Zimbabwe - Hounded out - was broadcast on BBC Two, Sunday, 16 February, 2003 at 1800 GMT.

See also:

29 Nov 02 | Country profiles
29 Nov 02 | Country profiles
17 Feb 03 | Africa
12 Feb 03 | Africa
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