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New Zimbabwe Law Allows for Eviction of Remaining White Farmers


Zimbabwe's parliament has passed a new land law that allows eviction of remaining white farmers. This is the latest chapter in a six-year controversial land-redistribution program.

Only a few hundred of more than 4,000 white farmers remain on their land in Zimbabwe. Under the land redistribution program announced by President Robert Mugabe in 2000, commercial farms were seized, ostensibly for the resettlement of landless blacks.

For six years, hundreds of white Zimbabwean farmers have been to court to try to avoid losing their farms, the businesses on their land and their homes.

Under a 2005 constitutional amendment, ownership of all white-owned land reverted to the state. However, the government did not have the power to evict farmers from state land they occupied, without lengthy legal battles.

Now, under the new law, white farmers have 90 days from the date President Mugabe rubber stamps the law to leave their homes and businesses, without recourse to the courts.

However, not all in the ruling ZANU-PF administration want the last white farmers to leave. The governor of the central bank, Gideon Gono, has been lending those still on their land money to grow crops.

The two vice presidents, Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika, have repeatedly said recently that they want productive white farmers to remain.

However, Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa told VOA last week that only he controls what happens to land, and he has made it clear to western diplomats in recent months he wants all white farmers off Zimbabwe's land.

Before the land-reform program, Zimbabwe was not only able to feed itself, but was a net exporter of food to the region, and commercial agriculture was the largest foreign currency earner and the largest employer.

Now, Zimbabwe is bankrupt. It depends on food imports, and, last week, the United Nations World Food Program said it had run out of money to continue to feed hundreds-of-thousands of people in need.