Zimbabwean farmers targeted as election recount begins

As the recount of the presidential vote in Zimbabwe gets underway, reports continue to come in of harassment of white farmers and attacks on their staff by supporters of Robert Mugabe.

It is understood that the recount of disputed ballot boxes in the parliamentary election has now been completed and this confirms that the Movement for Democratic Change has a majority.

The next stage is the recount the presidential vote, though this is expected to run into next week.

Mr Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party are hoping this will show his rival Morgan Tsvangirai fell short of the 50% required majority, and so force a run-off election.

Meanwhile, evidence of intimidation of the opposition continues.

Pedigree cattle breeder John Borland has described how a large group of so-called war veterans and Youth Brigade set up camp 150m away from his homestead last weekend and started a “pungwe” – a “political reorientation” of his workforce and other local people.

This involved two nights of drumming and chanting at his gate.

The mob then moved away to target a neighbouring citrus farm. But on Tuesday, Mr Borland and his one remaining staff member – the rest are too frightened to work – were confronted by the Youth Brigade on his farm and told they would be beaten up soon.

Commercial Farmers Union president Trevor Gifford has also been barricaded in on his farm, as has vice-president Deon Theron.

Most of the actual violence so far has been exacted on black MDC supporters, with severe beatings commonplace. The MDC says 20 of its members have been killed so far, and hundreds forced to flee their homes.

International body, Human Rights Watch, says military forces are providing arms and trucks to so-called “war veterans” who have been implicated in numerous acts of torture and other violence against the MDC.

“The army and its allies are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way,” said HRW Africa director Georgette Gagnon.

The following pictures have been sent to FWi by one of the farmers suffering harassment:

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A so-called “war veteran” keeps watch from a tree

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The farmer and his one remaining staff member water the cattle

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Access to the farm is blocked by Zanu PF supporters

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Pedigree Brahman cattle on the Zimbabwean farm

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This man had burning plastic put on his back and arms as part of a “pungwe”. His home was burned and his animals were doused in diesel and burned alive. (This is one of the less shocking images sent to FWi from inside Zimbabwe.)