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Ex-farmers target Zimbabwe’s UK assets
by Staff Reporter
A GROUP of white former commercial farmers forced off their farms under
Zimbabwe's land reforms have approached the UK government in a bid to have
seized Zimbabwe assets used to pay their compensation.
The eleven families believe the UK treasury is holding Zimbabwe assets
seized after sanctions were imposed against the country more than a decade
They also claim to have sent a 2,500-signature petition to foreign secretary
William Hague protesting EU plans to lift the sanctions at its next review
of the measures.
One of the farmers, Timolene Tibbett, 56, said they would not rest until
they get “justice" from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
“I can promise the Zimbabwean government we are not going away,” Tibbett
told the London Evening Standard.
“We are going to be on their toes until we see that justice is done and we
get paid - we have a good case. I’m sure we will win.”
She said a court awarded them more than $22 million compensation in 2009
adding the figure has since risen to $30 million due to interest.
At the time, the Zimbabwean Government agreed to settle the debts, but three
years on the money remains outstanding.
Now been reduced to living in a small flat in Harlow in Essex, the former
equestrian competitor says the stress of the ordeal led to her husband’s
“It’s extremely difficult. I have no friends and very few family here. I
have a couple of relatives, but my children are not here with me. They are
scattered all over. Life has changed drastically, dramatically for me,” she
Recalling the build-up to her family’s eviction, Tibbett said: “There had
been lots of intimidation of our workers and a neighbour of ours who was an
opposition supporter was murdered.
“The War Veterans came to the farm, they got near the house and demanded
certain things. There was chanting, shouting and screaming.
“We stuck it out for about three weeks, watching and listening to them.
“Finally, my husband said he could not stand to watch the family’s
livelihood and that of all our workers being allowed to die - it was very
After being forced to leave their land in the Macheke district, which they
had worked since 1986, the penniless family fled to Harare to try to set up
a business, but times were hard.
Tibbett’s husband later travelled to Nigeria for work, coming home every
couple of months to see his wife, but the stress became too much and in 2008
he died from a perforated ulcer, aged just 50.
After a brief spell in South Africa, Timolene returned to the UK last year.