The attackers were trying to evict them, although many of the farmers have court orders allowing them to stay on their land, while one is protected under an investment pact with Malaysia, the mainly white Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) said.
“The Commercial Farmers Union is gravely concerned with the recent harassment of productive farms and the failure of the police to render assistance in spite of high court orders for farmers to remain in occupation,” CFU vice president Charles Taffs told a news conference.
“We are concerned that a time Zimbabwe wishes to re-engage with the international community and encourage investment that these breaches of the rule law will drive Zimbabwe into further isolation.”
“The government is not assisting our plight,” he said. “We appeal to government to take action. Productive agriculture is on the verge of collapse.”
Taffs said squatters have attempted to force 16 farmers off their land since the start of June, and appealed to the country’s power-sharing government to intervene.
Five of the farmers are South African nationals whose investments should be protected under a bilateral trade deal signed in November, according to the advocacy group AfriForum.
Another farm in eastern Zimbabwe is owned by Malaysian investors, protected under a similar trade deal, the CFU said in a statement.
President Robert Mugabe launched a land reform programme in 2000 which saw the seizure of more than 3,000 white-owned farms by militant supporters of Mugabe’s party.
Mugabe said land reforms were needed to correct colonial-era imbalances which favoured white farmers, but Zimbabwe has failed to produce enough food for the nation since the scheme began.
According to government and UN agencies, the country will this year harvest 1.5 million tonnes of grain, but needs 2.2 million tonnes to feed the population.AFP