08/07/2017 08:01 SAST | Updated 08/07/2017 08:07 SAST

White Farmer Seeks Church Intervention Amidst Land 'Grabs' In Zim

Farmer says land grabs are 'immoral'.

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ZIMBABWE - MAY 17: Henry and Mandy Jackson's farmhouse on Bonnyvale on May 17, 2012 in Zimbabwe. Feature text available. (Photo by Gallo Images / Huisgenoot/You / Herman Scholtz)

A white former Zimbabwean farmer, Ben Freeth, has reportedly urged the International office of the Pentecostal Assemblies church in Canada to intervene, following fresh land grabs in the southern Africa country.

Freeth's colleague, white commercial farmer, Robert Smart, was forcefully removed from his property by armed police and a gang of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party youths outside Rusape town last month.

The tobacco and maize grower was evicted from his Lesbury Farm, to reportedly pave the way for a presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe church, Trevor Manhanga.

Manhanga was said to have links with Mugabe's party.

According to New Zimbabwe, Freeth, who lost his own farm during the frosty land invasions in the early 2000s, said that the Smart family "bought the Lesbury farm and other farms in the Rusape district and developed them over the last 80 years".

Freeth said that during the sometimes violent land invasions, which started in 2000, the Smart family came to an agreement with the government to relinquish 90% of their 8 000 hectares of land and retained 700 hectares – of which only 120 hectares were arable.

The family did not receive any compensation for the land they lost.

Freeth said Manhanga acted "immorally" after threatening the family with "Jambanja", a vicious strategy used throughout the 16 years of farm invasions to brutally evict farmers and their workers.

He said that the role of the church was "to be the moral conscience of the nation, and it needs to act immediately against Bishop Manhanga... We also call on the international office of the Pentecostal Assemblies church which is based in Canada to intervene in this crisis".

News24 reported recently that more than 150 farm workers had been rendered homeless following the violent eviction.

They appealed to Mugabe's government to allow their former employer to return to the farm, saying working at Lesbury Estates was their only source of livelihood. -- News24