CFU says killing signals escalation of pre-election violence

HARARE, – THE white dominated Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says the shooting at point blank range of another white farmer in the Selous district of Zimbabwe again highlights the deteriorating situation currently being faced in the rural farming areas.

Kobus Joubert, who was in his sixties and was a former president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), was killed on Monday night by unknown assailants on his farm, Scotsdale, about 95 kilometres south west of Harare. 

The intruders allegedly stole about US$10 000, three cell phones and a laptop. “This is a symptom of the flagrant disregard for the rule of law in these areas over the last ten years and the CFU urgently requests that the authorities take immediate action,” the white farmers pressure group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Police said the killing was purely a robbery and not a political motivated murder linked to land invasions as fears grow that pre-election violence is escalating following President Robert Mugabe’s declaration that elections would be held mid 2011.

Prior to the land invasions, Joubert farmed 500ha of land but this year, given the insecurity of the situation in the commercial farming sector, he planted just 50ha of tobacco, down from around 70ha last year.  He also grew a small crop of maize and sorghum and had a herd of beef cattle.

 In August 2008, Joubert, his wife and some of their farm workers were evicted from their farm by a senior Zanu PF figure, and ended up camping on the roadside in a lay-by with their few meager possessions.

Later that month the Jouberts’ application to the High Court was successful and the illegal orders granted to the beneficiary by a Magistrate’s court were annulled, enabling the couple to return to their farm.

The CFU said when Joubert was president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, tobacco was the country’s most important cash crop and the ZTA members used to generate 40 percent of the country’s export earnings.

The Joubert’s son is flying in from Australia on Friday to support his mother; his sister is already at her side. – Radio VOP