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Latest Zimbabwe Farm Invasions Reveal Fault Line in Unity Government


The latest round of seizures of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe comes at an awkward time for the national unity government that is trying to raise funds from international donors to overhaul the country's economy, infrastructure and society at large.

President Robert Mugabe has encouraged the commercial farm takeovers as the final phase of the land reform program he launched in 2000. But such seizures, though relatively small in number compared with the initial phases of the often-violent fast-track land redistribution drive, have hobbled Finance Minister Tendai Biti as he lobbies for donor support.

Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, which ruled from independence in 1980 until losing its majority in parliament in last year's general elections, is governing in an uneasy partnership with the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Besides holding the Finance portfolio, Biti is secretary general of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation.

Critics say the seizures prove at least one side of the Harare government does not respect the rule of law while the violence associated with such takeovers violates human rights.

Some 200 mostly white farmers have been turned off their land and in some cases beaten.

Some said the invasions are engineered by those who want to scuttle the unity government. But other observers say Mr. Mugabe has relaunched land reform in a bid to activate his base in anticipation of the next general election which some see in no more than two years.

For a closer look at the political ramifications of the land seizures, reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe President Trevor Gifford.

Gifford said the farm invasions are instigated by what he describes as "greedy" elements who do not want the country to advance.

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

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