A Zimbabwean former farmer who migrated to Australia, Terry Alderdice, said he is privileged to be “Down Under” after leaving his country of birth at the height of the controversial land reform programme in the year 2000.
Alderdice was forced off his farm in Marondera where he was growing tobacco after the Zimbabwean government seized white-owned farms for redistribution.
Speaking to SBS News, Alderdice sheds light on how he was dispossessed of his land. He said:
There were people coming on to the farm and saying ‘we are taking this farm, we want you off in 30 days’.
I didn’t believe them, I thought it was just a political gimmick for the ruling party to stay in power.
We had gangs of up to 30-40 people surrounding the homestead at night, lighting fires, throwing rocks.
I sent my wife and kids into town and would spend up to eight hours negotiating with a mob outside.
They coerced a lot of the local population through intimidation and bribery, told them just to come on to the farms and take what was there.
They didn’t just want the land, they wanted the farmhouses and infrastructure.
At the age of 50, I came to Australia and started again. We’re very privileged to be here.
Another farmer, David Stead spoke about how he was he was forced off his farm at gunpoint and left fro Harare with a few belongings. He said:
On my wife’s birthday in 2004 we were thrown off at gunpoint and threatened with our lives. We moved into Harare with what we were told we were allowed to take off the farm.
Back then, you had to have political contacts to [be left alone]. I had meetings with the then minister for agriculture, I even met with Mugabe’s sister because she was very influential in the province when we were farming.
But it all came to no end. Our lawyer said ‘look, you’re young, it’s not too late to start over. Get out of the country now before its too late’.