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Farmer resists murder threat

PUBLISHED: 07:31 21 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

ARMED police have threatened the son of a Suffolk farmer at gunpoint demanding he leave his home in Zimbabwe or be killed.

Graham Douse has stayed on his farm, in the Marondera region of the troubled African country, despite months of political unrest, threats of violence and the violent seizure of white-owned farms.

ARMED police have threatened the son of a Suffolk farmer at gunpoint demanding he leave his home in Zimbabwe or be killed.

Graham Douse has stayed on his farm, in the Marondera region of the troubled African country, despite months of political unrest, threats of violence and the violent seizure of white-owned farms.

Last month, Mr Douse, whose family live in Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, was forced to stop work on the farm because of threats against his family and workers.

Then, last week his farm was invaded by officials from Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party, backed up by armed policemen.

While the officers pointed their rifles at him, Mr Douse was confronted by the executive Secretary of the Provincial Branch of Zanu PF who ordered him to leave his home of 23 years by tomorrow.

His 77 employees and their families were also to leave and he claims he was told the consequences of not leaving would be simple – they would all be killed.

However John Douse, Graham's father who farmed in Zimbabwe for 30 years and was a senior member of the country's equivalent to the ministry of agriculture, said his son had since gone to the local police station.

"Graham was told that it is not Government policy to throw him out of his house. Which means it was the Zanu PF officials trying it on," he said.

"It is some comfort to know that some of the police seem to be on Graham's side but at the same time it was policemen who threatened him at gunpoint.

"He says he is going to stay where he is, now he knows that his farm is not one of those officially listed for seizure," John Douse said.

The unrest in Zimbabwe began last year as President Mugabe, who is up for re-election next year, enforced his "land redistribution" policy. Despite widespread international condemnation Mugabe's government earmarked 4,500 of the country's 5,000 white owned farms for seizure, with the land to be redistributed among the landless.

A recent report by the Foreign Ministers of the Southern African Development Commission stated that there was an improved atmosphere of calm and stability and that violence on farms had reduced significantly.

However, the country's Human Right Forum reported that in November alone there were 6 murders of Mugabe's opponents, eight kidnappings, 81 cases of property damage and 115 cases of torture and/or rape.

"Mugabe is destroying Zimbabwe," John Douse said.


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