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Zimbabwe Land Seizures Increase - 2003-03-03


In the last week, the Zimbabwe government has dramatically increased the compulsory acquisition of the few hundred remaining white-owned commercial farms. The farmers are being given seven to 90 days to leave their properties, and many of those affected in this latest wave of seizures have crops in the ground.

Tim White has a farm about 30 kilometers outside of Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. He has survived almost unscathed during the last three years of violent seizures of white-owned land, and grows vegetables on a large scale for the city. But his period of relative tranquillity is about to end.

Last Friday, he and about 20 other white farmers received a preliminary notice of acquisition from the state. Known as a Section Five, the notice is the first step in the process leading to the seizure of white farms by the state. Like Mr. White, the other farmers had until now been able to stay on their land and keep farming.

Still other farmers who have already received preliminary notices of acquisition are now receiving eviction orders.

In addition, there are reports that many people who have moved onto the land once farmed by whites are themselves being evicted by high officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

A recent article in the London-based Africa Confidential says a top official in the Zimbabwe government has prepared a report that details some of the abuses that have occurred in the seizures of the farms once owned by whites.

However, the report, parts of which have been leaked to the media, is said to contain very little information about the scale of the abuse. But Mr. Mugabe's sister Sabina is reportedly mentioned. It is said she has seized three formerly white-owned farms and, in the process, chased off settlers.

According to Africa Confidential, the report is going to be presented to the Zimbabwe cabinet.

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