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Amid No Official Action, Zimbabwe's White Farmers Still Being Evicted - 2002-08-10


Despite repeated threats, there has been no official action taken against up to 2,900 white farmers in Zimbabwe who have defied the law and remained on their land beyond the August 8 deadline. However, other farmers are still being evicted from their holdings.

Without any warning, white farmer Nigel Hough was evicted from his small ostrich farm early Saturday. The takeover was a complete surprise, since his farm was not on the government list of properties up for compulsory acquisition.

He said ruling ZANU-PF party supporters went onto the farm shortly after daybreak, saying they had orders from a local political leader. While policemen looked on, they forced Mr. Hough and his family to abandon their home.

This has happened to many farmers in the last six months. Prize individual farms are still being taken, regardless of the law, by President Robert Mugabe's political colleagues and senior members of the security forces.

A majority of the farmers ordered to leave their properties by midnight Thursday without compensation are staying put, clinging to the hope that a last-minute High Court action may give them extra time.

But Commercial Farmers Union President Colin Cloete said the fate of the farmers, who produce most of Zimbabwe's food, rests with the government, not the courts. He said the government can do what it wants. The fate of the farmers who refuse to leave their properties could be decided by President Mugabe in an address to the nation on Monday.

Vice President Joseph Msika told farmers on Wednesday that none of them would be made homeless by the land resettlement program.

On Thursday he warned farmers not to defy the eviction notices, saying that the law would take its course.

On Friday, Dr. Ignatius Chombo, who heads up the government's land task force, accused white farmers of being racist, and also warned them not to defy the eviction law.

Under that law, those farmers who refused to leave by the Thursday midnight deadline can be fined or jailed for up to two years.

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