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Zimbabwe to Tighten Land Reform Program - 2002-09-12

In Zimbabwe, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has given notice late Wednesday that he will soon go to parliament to tighten the laws governing Zimbabwe's controversial land reform program.

Mr. Chinamasa says any problems in the land reform process will be swiftly rectified in parliament next week.

Several recent judgments by Zimbabwe's high court have criticized the way white-owned farms have been nationalized, describing it as chaotic and erratic.

Farmers have taken advantage of loopholes in the laws to have the nationalization of their farms declared invalid. Mr. Chinamasa says this problem will be overcome by changing the laws.

He says the much-amended Land Acquisition Act and parliamentary standing orders will be altered to overcome previous legal hurdles.

In recent months, dozens of farmers have won the right to keep their farms when the courts ruled that the law had been broken. The court said the government failed to tell bond-holders that the properties had been seized.

Mr. Chinamasa said that farmers who won their cases in court will be served with new eviction notices and bond holders will be informed at the same time.

Previously, farmers were given 90 days to leave their homes and businesses. Mr. Chinamasa said this period would be reduced to seven days from the date the orders were served.

A majority of Zimbabwe's 3,200 white farmers have moved from their farms to the cities. Many of those still on their farms say they fear for their lives and will soon leave.