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Mugabe Vows to Continue Farm Seizures - 2001-08-11

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has vowed to continue with seizure of commercial farms and has threatened violence against farmers who resist. And he has again accused the United States and Britain of trying to impose colonial rule on the country.

In a speech Saturday to commemorate guerillas who were killed in the bush war against white-ruled Rhodesia, Mr. Mugabe said there would be no letup in nationalization of commercial farms. The government says the farms will be used to resettle poor people.

Shaking his fist and slamming the podium with his hand, Mr. Mugabe said Saturday his government will not change its land policy in the face of sanctions by western countries.

The European Union and the United States are considering action against Zimbabwe because of what they claim is the failure of the government to observe the rule of law.

Mr. Mugabe threatened violence against white farmers, whom he accused of attacking squatters on their farms. "This will bounce back on them, and they must not cry foul," he said. "They must realize the futility of their actions."

More than 20 white farmers are in jail awaiting trial on charges of attacking land invaders at Chinhoyi, 100 kilometers northwest of Harare.

Mr. Mugabe repeatedly accused Britain and the United States of racism in their criticism of the government. "Our crime is that we are black. In America, blacks are a condemned race," he said. "Zimbabwe can never revert to the territorial or baronial station under Britain, let alone become a remote colony by remote control of the United States of America."

Political analysts say this was one of the most hostile speeches Mr. Mugabe has made in the 21 years since Zimbabwe became independent from Britain.

Meanwhile, violence by militant groups who support Mr. Mugabe has continued on farms in the north of the country. The families of 90 farmers were evacuated by neighbors on Saturday as militants stormed homesteads, looting and destroying property.

The Commercial Farmers Union says that property and equipment worth more than $3 million has been destroyed or stolen.