This is the story of how Retired army General Solomon Mujuru came to occupy the farm that he died in, 60 km outside Harare in Beatrice. The farmer Guy Watson-Smith and his wife were forced out and left with a suitcase of clothes after Mujuru sold lorries, tractors, irrigation equipment and other movable property.
By Guy Watson-Smith
I was shocked to hear of Solomon Mujuru’s death and to see the photos all over the internet and which I have been sent (and picked up out here in the bush). Our house is destroyed, not that we expected to live in it again as we were violently evicted from our farm by the General in 2001.
The incidents were pretty well reported at the time including live interviews with Lise Doucet and others. We have fought a nearly-ten year battle in the High Court of Zimbabwe for payment for the moveable assets which we were forced to leave behind (with only an hour to leave).
Those assets included all of our breeding cattle (460 head), game (600 animals), our tractors, vehicles, equipment, irrigation equipment, stocks of fertilizer and diesel, coal and so on. It was independently valued by Zimbabwe’s top valuers at US$1.7m in 2001. All the documentation is of course available and forms the basis of our civil suit against General Mujuru.
The land itself is an entirely different issue and forms part of a wider action on the part of 4000 dispossessed farmers, against the government. This has also been valued along with 90% of the dispossessed farms, and is being pursued through the Commercial Farmers Union in Harare, and Agric Africa who are UK based.
If Solomon Mujuru’s death on my farm brings anything at all, I hope it is a renewed awareness that there are huge injustices that need addressing before Zimbabwe can feed itself (and help to feed the region) again, and recover from the last 10 years of mayhem.
The rule of law and property rights is at the heart of any future recovery in our country, and mine is just one of so many productive farms which have been similarly taken out of the economic life of the country.
With law and order and the return of property rights the turnaround for the average Zimbabwean could be so quick – everything is still there and basically waiting for conditions to change, with loyal productive Zimbabweans forced to sit on their hands waiting for the opportunity to go back to work.
On another level – one has to wonder whether the truth about Mujuru’s death will ever come out. Our house was a sprawling single storey building, roofed entirely with asbestos sheeting (which was common in the 50′s when it was built).
Of course that makes it absolutely fire-proof, and the walls were brick and cement. All that could have burned was roofing timbers and ceilings, and to imagine the fire spreading quickly without help is hard to do.
Finally there were more doors and windows than holes in a colander. Our main bedroom alone had 3 doors out of it and 4 double windows. How do you get trapped inside that?
Do you think there was foul play in General Solomon Mujuru's death or it was just an accident? Comment below: