One of Chinhoyi's last white farmers forcibly removed
Red tape and bureaucracy have resulted in the violent removal of one of the few remaining white commercial farmers in Chinhoyi.
Gary Hensman, 75, and 25 other white commercial farmers in the area were given "offer letters" for their farms in June 2015 by the provincial lands committee in Chinhoyi, effectively meaning they would not be affected by the Zanu-PF land reform moves.
As part of the deal, Hensman's Gyppslander farm covering 348ha was subdivided and he was left with 80ha.
Since then he has been holding on to the letter and an assurance from minister of lands Perence Shiri for the security of his remaining land.
"The minister of lands has repeatedly said he wants us white farmers to stay on the farms and produce crops, which we are more than willing to do," he told the Sunday Times.
However, he has been forcibly moved from the farm after two emerging farmers gained access to the land.
Initially, the two had been pestering Hensman to leave because they were armed with offer letters, issued in 2017.
Hensman approached the lands committee and was assured the 2017 letters had been "cancelled" in April this year. But his nightmare became a reality when it turned out that although the provincial land officer, Mary Msliwa, had signed the withdrawal letters, the ministry of lands had not endorsed it, meaning Hensman was an illegal settler.
"Fifteen policemen came out to back the sheriff. They were dressed in full riot kit, armed with FN rifles, pistols on their belts, night sticks in hand, smoke grenades on their belts," Hensman said.
One of the emerging farmers, Moses Mpofu, maintained he was "within the law" in his pursuit of the farm allocated to him.
Having been removed at night, Hensman left some of his livestock with employees.
"We have been kicked out and told to take all our livestock. We left our cattle, horses and sheep to our trusted staff," he said.
His highly publicised removal from the farm comes as relations between Zimbabwe and the West have hit an all-time low.
Political analyst Alex Magaisa from the University of Kent in the UK said: "The forced removal of commercial farmer Gary Hensman with the connivance of the state is by no means a random act."
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