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Home | ZimCrisis#88 -- Farm Crisis in Zimbabwe Worsens

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 13:13:23 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#88 -- Farm Crisis in Zimbabwe Worsens

By Angus Shaw, Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Illegal occupiers on white-owned farms have stepped up threats and demands for owners to leave their homes and properties, a farmers' organization said Friday.

Ruling party militants said they were immediately taking over land and homesteads in many areas, according to the Commercial Farmers Union, which said farmers are near the breaking point after five months of violent land occupations.

The union advised farmers not to vacate their properties and "not to back down to illegal demands" despite only minimal intervention from police, said Jerry Grant, its deputy director.

"If you get out of your house, you have lost it," Grant said, acknowledging that the union's strategy could be dangerous. "What do you say when a widow tells you later it's your fault for giving that advice?"

The union cited various examples of the new threats.

On Wednesday, according to the union, a war veteran leader demanded that a white farmer north of Harare pay rent to squatters on the property. About 30 of that leader's violent followers warned another farmer to move off his land. A third farmer was told by ruling party militants that they will take over his building for a pig and poultry project.

Near Kwekwe, southwest of Harare, militants threatened Thursday to evict a farm owner forcibly unless he reported to a nearby office manned by veterans to sign over his land, the union reported.

"They are getting more militant. Clearly, a directive has come from the top. It is breaking out all over the country and it is not spontaneous," Grant said.

Militants of the National Liberation War Veterans Association who have led the illegal occupations of more than 1,700 white-owned farms have admitted receiving money and transport from President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

The occupations began after Mugabe lost a constitutional referendum in February that would have empowered him to seize white-owned farms for the resettlement of landless blacks without paying compensation.

Militant supporters in the countryside, many of whom fought under Mugabe's command in Zimbabwe's war of independence in 1980, then took matters into their own hands, seizing land they say was unlawfully taken by white settlers from its original black inhabitants.

Mugabe has described the wave of seizures "a minor trespass" protesting unfair ownership of land by whites and ordered police not to intervene.

Since the occupations began, political violence has claimed the lives of 31 people, including five white farmers.

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List Archives -- http://www.niner.net/zimcrisis
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk