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Major Zimbabwe Farm Overrun By Security Forces - 2004-04-14


A huge farm in eastern Zimbabwe that supplies vegetables to top British and South African supermarkets has been overrun by armed police and security agents, and thousands of workers and their children are reported to have been evicted from their homes. The farm is probably the biggest vegetable exporter in Africa and thousands of workers depend on it for survival.

The latest move on the farm, known as Kondozi, about 220-kilometers southeast of Harare, began on last Friday. Millions of dollars' worth of farm equipment and computers has been reported looted.

The farm's managers said they were barred by police roadblocks from getting to Kondozi. They also said reports filtering from the vegetable produce and packaging complex indicate that most employees there had been forced out of their houses and had fled for safety in nearby hills.

The managers said others had sent messages saying they have been ordered to work for the government.

The majority shareholder in the Kondozi complex, Edwin Moyo, is currently in Britain.

The company not only grows vegetables on its own land, but also assists peasant farmers in the district and buys their produce, packages it, and sends it to Britain and South Africa. The farm is the largest employer in Manicaland Province and reportedly earns at least 15-million dollars a year at a time when Zimbabwe cannot afford to pay its foreign debt.

Most of Kondozi's management employees were evicted from their homesteads last year by supporters of Zimbabwe's transport minister, Christopher Mushowe. Zimbabwe's ongoing seizure of most commercial farmland is seen as having helped lead to the worst economic crisis in the country's history.

The minister of agriculture was not available for comment, but a government spokesman, George Charamba, said the land was needed by the government.

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