Far from being deterred by the country’s downward economic spiral, the farmers are convinced that it will hasten the end of Mr Mugabe’s rule
By Stephen Bevan, Sunday Telegraph
For Rod Swales and many of Zimbabwe’s 4,000 white farmers forced off their land by President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic and violent land reforms, the chance to start afresh somewhere else was too good to pass up.
Neighbouring countries welcomed them with open arms and furnished them with land, while the agricultural companies provided them with cash incentives. But five years later, 52-year-old Mr Swales is back in Zimbabwe at the forefront of a new wave of pioneers.
Far from being deterred by the country’s downward economic spiral, the farmers are convinced that it will hasten the end of Mr Mugabe’s rule, and speed the day when they can set up in business once again.
“I do believe the wheel is turning and sanity will prevail at some stage,” Mr Swales said. “I speak to various Zanu PF moderates and all of them advise us to be patient, there will be change, this thing can’t continue.”
Mr Swales believes Mr Mugabe’s regime is nearing the end, that an economy battered by inflation reported to have hit 13,000 per cent in June and where supplies of even basic foods such as maize flour and cooking oil have dried up, must surely soon collapse altogether.”I might not get my farm back but when the dust settles I might get another farm. Maybe I’ll buy a farm from someone who doesn’t want to come back to Zimbabwe. I have to hope I can survive that long and wait out old Bob.”
Back in 2002, Mr Swales and his family were forcibly evicted from their 1,976-acre farm in Darwendale, 50 miles north east of Harare, by a mob of “war veterans”. The chance to move over the border to Chimoio, in Mozambique, was too good to turn down.
Like many of those now returning to Zimbabwe, Mr Swales was on a scheme sponsored by tobacco companies such as Universal Leaf Tobacco. The companies provided start-up capital and seasonal loans.