Zimbabwe

Chinese farmers take over former white-owned farms in Zimbabwe to cash in on tobacco

Gho Feng gives thumbs up at tobacco farm
Gho Feng gives thumbs up at tobacco farm CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

Chinese farmers have taken over formerly white-owned farmsfor the first time, investing millions of pounds into tobacco production.

Farms that were badly managed for nearly 20 years, after Robert Mugabe’s mass seizure of white-owned land, are now being worked again in the hope of reaping a  potentially huge reward.

At least five farms have attracted Chinese investment in Mashonaland Central, a region to the north-west of Harare, that was traditionally one of the country’s best tobacco-producing areas.

Safe in the knowledge that Mr Mugabe’s policy of strengthening ties with China will offer a degree of protection, they have poured money into machinery and are taking advice from international experts.

China has become the largest investor in Zimbabwe, the economy of which is still reeling from the land seizures of 2000 and hyperinflation, has taken a nosedive once again.

Unemployment is running at about 90 per cent and the regime is so short of money that it cannot pay teachers or civil servants.

Chen Li Jun,left, sits on a motorcycle with a farm worker 
Chen Li Jun,left, sits on a motorcycle with a farm worker  CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

The dire economic conditions have prompted rare protests against Mr Mugabe’s regime by a coalition of  opposition parties.

Yesterday, a heavy police presence in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare stopped a planned mass demonstration, as activists claimed police used live ammunition to disperse small protests.

While Zimbabwe’s land reform process has empowered around 60,000 small-scale black tobacco farmers, who grow lower grades of tobacco, many of the bigger farms distributed among Mr Mugabe’s cronies have not fared so well.

Farms just north of Harare lie fallow amid broken fences, fields scorched by fires and scarce livestock. There are few surviving indigenous trees as many were felled by new farmers who could not afford coal to cure their tobacco.

A generation of evicted white farmers have moved abroad or live hand-to-mouth, waiting for promised compensation.

Tsitsi Chiasan attends to tobacco seedlings
Tsitsi Chiasan attends to tobacco seedlings CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

One farm worker in Mvurwi, about 60 miles north of Harare, said there were now plenty of jobs in the district after years of difficulties following the departure of the white landowners. “The Chinese are spending money,” he said.

Experts believe that the five Chinese-run farms will, despite their limited experience, grow and cure about 1,500 acres of tobacco this year. They said the new  infrastructure including equipment manufactured by US company, Valley Irrigation, must have cost at least £7 million.

Anti-Mugabe protesters clash with police in ZimbabwePlay!00:43

An insider in the tobacco industry said the Chinese company would be paying a hefty rental for the land they are now using to the “political” men who now own the farms.

“The Chinese will pay a percentage of the income from the tobacco as rent,” he said. “Some of that rental should be shared with the white farmers who left their homes with nothing and received no compensation from the  government, but they probably don’t know their old farms are now about to start making money again.”

Horrifying moment a taxi driver is surrounded by riot cops and beaten with truncheons

Horrifying moment a taxi driver is surrounded by riot cops and beaten with truncheons on the floor… during a protest about police brutality in Zimbabwe

  • Violent clashes between Zimbabwean police and protesters resulted in 30 arrests as a riot broke out in Harare
  • Demonstrators forced to lie down in dusty roads and battered by truncheons as police use tear gas and dogs
  • Protest over a number of issues including economic hardship, police brutality and Robert Mugabe’s government
  • A journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks before taking their uniforms to wear them
  • Many rioters were young men who make a living from by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses
  • The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Violent clashes between Zimbabwean police and protesters resulted in 30 arrests as a riot broke out over economic hardship, police brutality and Robert Mugabe’s government.

Demonstrators were forced to lie down in the dusty roads as machine gun-wielding officers fired warning shots and rounded up civilians in Harare.

One taxi driver can be seen getting a savage beating from six riot cops, another man has his head stood on by an officer carrying a machine gun and bloodied protesters are pictured running from the mayhem.

As well as a number of economical and political issues affecting workers, the protest was ironically about police brutality in the country.

Savage:Taxi driver surrounded by six riot cops who kick him and beat him with truncheons as another demonstrator escapes the fracas

Savage:Taxi driver surrounded by six riot cops who kick him and beat him with truncheons as another demonstrator escapes the fracas

Down in the dirt: Four police officers in riot gear carrying guns as they force protesters to the ground in Harare

Down in the dirt: Four police officers in riot gear carrying guns as they force protesters to the ground in Harare

Blood on the streets: One protester is helped away from the riots while a child (far right) watches on in horror having been caught up in the action on the way to school 

Blood on the streets: One protester is helped away from the riots while a child (far right) watches on in horror having been caught up in the action on the way to school

Police fire tear gas and water cannons at protesters

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Smoking barrel: A Zimbabwean police officer fires a warning shot as the riot gathers pace in the capital

Smoking barrel: A Zimbabwean police officer fires a warning shot as the riot gathers pace in the capital

Brutal: A protester has his face shoved into the dirt by a machine gun-wielding police officers boot as one of his colleagues goes after another civilian with a truncheon

Brutal: A protester has his face shoved into the dirt by a machine gun-wielding police officers boot as one of his colleagues goes after another civilian with a truncheon

Police in Zimbabwe’s capital have fired tear gas, water cannons and warning shots during riots by minibus drivers and others protesting alleged police harassment.

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them.

The protesters blocked roads leading into the centre of the city on Monday, forcing many people to walk up to six miles (10km) to get to work.

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare's eastern suburbs

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare’s eastern suburbs

Rioters threw stones at police and vehicles, and some children on their way to school were caught up in the chaos.

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare’s eastern suburbs.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

Some police were seen firing live ammunition into the air to ward off the crowds. They also brought in police dogs.

The drivers’ grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes.

Police said they had reduced the number of roadblocks after complaints from parliamentarians, tourism operators and others.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them. A demonstrator, not involved in the attack, can be seen carrying two sticks

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them. A demonstrator, not involved in the attack, can be seen carrying two sticks

Burning issue: Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations

Burning issue: Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations

Thirty people were arrested for inciting the protests, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said.

“We have information and intelligence on the identities of some criminal elements who are behind the social unrest,” Ms Charamba said at a news conference.

Such acts of defiance and clashes with the police are rare in Zimbabwe, although the government deployed the army against 1998 riots over soaring food prices.

Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations.

Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent weeks.

On Friday, protesters burned a warehouse at Beitbridge, a busy border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa, over a Zimbabwean decision to ban a wide range of imports.

Seventeen people appeared in court on Sunday over the Beitbridge protests and were charged with public violence.

Separately, state hospital doctors and other government workers said they will strike over the government’s failure to pay their June salaries on time.

Down and out: Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent week

Down and out: Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent week

Hands up: A protester is surrounded by three riot police officers as he cowers against a wall

Hands up: A protester is surrounded by three riot police officers as he cowers against a wall

Nowhere to go: The drivers' grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes

Nowhere to go: The drivers’ grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes

Grounded: Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago

Grounded: Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago.

The financing dried up due to failure to repay debts as well as international sanctions imposed because of concerns over democratic rights.

Some recent political protests have been notable for their brazenness.

Police said they are looking for Lumumba William Matumanje, a former ruling party activist who used an obscenity to denigrate Mugabe while launching his own political party last week.

People have often been sent to jail for such conduct in Zimbabwe.

Last month, video footage showed an anti-government protester shouting in the lobby of an upmarket hotel in Harare and haranguing police until they move in and drag him away.

The video shows a protest by activists angry at Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s alleged 18-month stay in a 400 US dollars (£300) a night hotel suite in the capital.

Activist Sten Zvorwadza was charged with threats to commit malicious damage to property and was freed on 200 US dollars (£150) bail.

The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says.

Rock bottom: The majority of Zimbabwe's citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Rock bottom: The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Video: Zimbabwe police brutality exposed

In yet another horrific video that shows the brutality of Zimbabwean police, a woman is battered by a group of police officers while one of the cops – a senior officer – holds her child.

 

In the video- which has gone viral on social media – about a dozen truncheon-wielding officers stationed with a couple of service trucks are seen beating up unarmed civilians.

The video was captured from a police truck, apparently by another officer.

It is not clear where the video was captured as the country recently had several incidences of police confronting civilians and brutalising them during the various protests that took place.

 

WORRYING SITUATION AS BONA MUGABE GRABS GOROMONZI FARM FROM A WHITE FARMER

Bona-Mugabe

Bona-Mugabe

Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, has reportedly grabbed a farm from a white commercial farmer in Goromonzi district near Harare. The farmer has been ordered to move from the property.When Studio 7 arrived at Divonia Farm near Juru Growth Point, popularly known as kwaBhora, in Goromonzi district, several army and police officers, including members of the secret service, had sealed off the farm. The evicted farmer only identified as Hunter was also seen loading his farming equipment with the help of his former laborers into lorries that were waiting. Some of the tractors were driven to unidentified locations in Harare. The security details also barred Studio 7 from talking to anyone at Divonia Farm where the farmer was growing seed maize and wheat. One of Hunter’s neighbors in the farming community, who refused to be identified, told Studio 7 that the evicted farmer was phoned by a senior member of the military last week advising him that Bona Mugabe would be moving into his property. Hunter’s former workers were also complaining that they now do not know what their future holds following the eviction of their employer and Bona Mugabe’s takeover of the farm. The grabbing of Divonia Farm by Bona today comes at a time when a new wave of invasions is being reported in the countryside, especially in the Matabeleland region. Her take-over of the property means that the Mugabe family now has several farms after the president and his wife, Grace, allegedly displaced several people in Mazowe district when they took over some properties. On the contrary, President Mugabe recently called for a moratorium on farm invasions.The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is on record saying most of the farms that were acquired under the land reform program were parceled out to mainly Zanu PF members, especially the top brass. Studio 7 failed get a comment from Bona while Land and Rural Resettlement Minister, Douglas Mombeshora, said he was not aware of what was going on at Divonia Farm. Meanwhile, Commercial Farmers Union president, Charles Taffs, criticized the new wave of farm invasions and land grabs saying they violated people’s rights to property as enshrined in the constitution.Taffs called for a change of government policy on land, saying the land grabs and invasions were having a ripple effect on the country’s economic growth potential.