On 13th November 2015 the Zimbabwe Vigil together with its sister organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) were back at the Willows Medical Centre in Nottingham for another protest against Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica. The Nyatsuros who are British citizens and been living in Britain for more than ten years are claiming that the illegal regime government of Zanu PF has given them permission to seize Mr Philip Rankin’s farm.
Scores of protesters who braved the chilly weather have condemned the racist seizure of the Rankin’s farm and have vowed to continue with the protests outside Nyatsuros’ clinic in Nottingham until the greedy doctor stops his hypocritical claim on Rankin’s farm. This illegal seizure of Rankin’s farm is just as illegal, unconstitutional, illegitimate and bogus as the government supporting it.
It is against this backdrop that the Zimbabwe Vigil and ROHR strongly condemn the Zanu PF chaotic land reform programme. Tens of thousands of hectares of commercial land, previously irrigated to feed the population of Zimbabwe, now lie idle. Inexperienced and incompetent new occupants, mostly prominent Zanu PF members and their relatives, brag that they are farmers but their farms lie fallow and are no longer being irrigated.
All the ‘new farmers’ do is to subdivide and sell the newly acquired land and farm implements. Even where there has been some irrigation the climate has not helped the chaotic land reform programme as Zimbabwe has been experiencing persistent droughts. Since the year 2000 Zimbabwean new farmers have not been able to grow half of what is needed to feed the population. The once acclaimed bread basket of the region has disintegrated into a basket case having to now import maize from countries such as Zambia. The meagre subsistence farming being practised by the peasants has left them ‘food poor’ as they cannot produce enough to last them to the next season.
The World Food Programme has this year declared Zimbabwe as a food-deficit and a low-income country and the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index ranked it 156 out of 187. Presently, approximately 72 percent of the population are said to be surviving on less than US$1.25 thus living below the international poverty line. In the rural areas it is estimated that about 30 percent of the population are classified as being ‘extremely poor’ or ‘food poor’. It is estimated that nearly two million of Harare’s residents are currently surviving on just one meal per day. Most families have resorted to eating nothing in the morning and afternoon then having their only meal in the evening. As a result there have been widespread reported cases of malnutrition in Harare with a third of Zimbabwe’s children said to be stunted or too short for their age.
Almost 28 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished and 56 percent of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years are said to suffer from anaemia. It is ironic that in a country of 4.3 million hectares of arable land, the Nyatsuros are fighting to grab land from Rankin who is one of the few productive farmers left in Zimbabwe. So as ROHR and Zimbabwe Vigil we are saying Nyatsuro stick to your expertise and leave Rankin to do what he is good at. Together we can!
Esther Nyambi, National Vice Secretary, ROHR UK