By Patience Rusere Washington
11 August 2009
Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union has added its voice to those demanding justice as well as healing and reconciliation from the country's national unity government.
The group has launched a drive to document crimes committed in the course of farm takeovers since President Robert Mugabe launched fast-track land reform in 2000, including the names of those who allegedly committed assault, murder, rapes and other serious criminal offenses in the course of chaotic farm invasions led by war veterans.
Trevor Gifford, who recently stepped down as union president, said the CFU has compiled information on 15,000 people alleged to have committed such crimes. He would not disclose names but said they include war veterans, youth militia and senior government officials.
There has been an resumption of land invasions since the installation in February of the new unity government combining the former ruling ZANU-PF and the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The latest wave of farm takeovers is believed by many to have been engineered by ZANU-PF hardliners intent on destabilizing the new government.
Gifford told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that white farmers like other Zimbabweans are entitled to seek justice for wrongs they have suffered.
The country as a whole has embarked on a national healing, reconciliation and reintegration program focusing not only on the deadly political violence that followed elections in 2008 but all violence from colonial times through to Zimbabwean independence in 1980.