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Zimbabwe Announces Farmland Redistribution - 2001-12-31

The Zimbabwe government has announced the first list of people to be given land on commercial farms seized from white owners. The announcement comes as violence and illegal invasions on white-owned commercial farms continue.

Zimbabwe's agriculture minister, Joseph Made has told state media that at least 100,000 families will be settled on the commercial farms.

The government has said that 90 percent of the 4,500 white-owned commercial farms will be nationalized for resettlement of poor people.

The authorities are giving no indication about whether landowners will be paid compensation.

When the farm seizures began two years ago President Robert Mugabe said owners would not be paid for the land, but would get compensation for buildings and equipment. In the past six months, seizures have intensified, and some owners say they have been told unofficially they will get no money at all.

About 2,000 farms, including many that are not scheduled for nationalization, have been invaded by militant groups loyal to President Mugabe, and work on many of them has been stopped. Human rights groups say thousands of farm workers have been beaten up, while 70,000 have been forced to flee and have become destitute.

Opposition party officials say Zimbabwe's farming output has been seriously damaged by the invasions and by the policy of seizing land for resettlement.

An analysis by economics specialists of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change predicts that hundreds of thousands of people face famine because commercial production of Zimbabwe's staple food, corn (maize), has dropped by 70 percent.

The U.N. World Food Program, has appealed for $60 million in emergency help from international donors to avert famine.

The opposition also says newly resettled people are being provided with very little equipment and virtually no seed or fertilizer.