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Zimbabwe Evicts All White Sugar Cane Farmers - 2002-10-09

All of Zimbabwe's white, sugar-cane farmers have been evicted from their properties in the past two days. A small town in southeastern Zimbabwe is overflowing with homeless families.

According to the sugar cane growers association, the government's land task force moved into the town of Chiredzi on Monday and ordered 72 white farmers to leave.

In a telephone interview, an association spokesman said that by mid-day all the farmers had left their homes, and had not managed to take any farm equipment with them.

These farmers produce 18 percent of Zimbabwe's sugar, and were six weeks from harvesting this year's crop. There are scores of black, sugar-cane farmers in the area, but none of them have been affected.

President Robert Mugabe launched often violent invasions of white owned land in February 2000, but the sugar-cane farmers were largely unaffected until now.

The land task force, appointed by President Mugabe, spent last week in the arid ranchland of Matabeleland province and forced more than 70 cattle ranchers, and the only export flower grower, to leave.

Some violence and the arrest of several white farmers accompanied these evictions. Dozens of workers on the flower farm lost all their possessions when their houses were burned.

Next week, commercial farmers believe the task force will move to the last two provinces where white farmers still remain, and will evict them.

According to the state-controlled media, President Mugabe met with his politburo on Monday, and discussed the land issue. After the meeting, Politburo member, and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying allegations that confiscated land had been given to ruling party members are false.

Mr. Chinamsa's wife, Monica, moved onto a white-owned farm southeast of Harare three weeks ago.