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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Said To Confront President Mugabe Over Farm Seizures

Yet another point of disagreement has emerged between Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe a little more than two weeks following the launch of the national unity government in which they are partners: Mr. Mugabe's declaration on the weekend urging the country's last white commercial farmers to get off the land.

Political sources said Mr. Tsvangirai took the president to task over his declarations in their weekly meeting on Monday, before taking up other business. They said Mr. Tsvangirai urged Mr. Mugabe to halt farm seizures, arguing that they were counterproductive.

Mr. Mugabe made the statements in a speech to supporters at official celebrations of his 85th birthday in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West province. He vowed to continue his controversial land reform program which has seized most white-owned commercial farms since it was launched in 2000, and dismissed Southern African tribunal decisions backing some what farmers.

President Mugabe also said that nothing had changed in Zimbabwe despite the launch of the unity government with Mr. Tsvangirai, founder of the Movement for Democratic Change party which holds a parliamentary majority and now controls a number of ministries.

The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the 400 white farmers who remain out of more than 4,000 before 2000, condemned the ongoing farm seizures.

CFU President Trevor Gifford told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe his union had received assurances from Mr. Tsvangirai's office as to the cessation of farm takeovers, so it was troubled by Mr. Mugabe's remarks to ZANU-PF loyalists.

Elsewhere, civil society leaders meeting recently in South Africa voiced concern about the direction of the new unity government, saying the Southern African Development Community and the African Union must hold all parties accountable to the letter and the spirit of the power-sharing agreement, reported correspondent Benedict Nhlapho.

More news from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...