Mugabe loyalists on farms defiant

Harare - A multiparty fact-finding delegation got a chilly reception Friday as it toured Zimbabwean farms seized from whites by supporters of President Robert Mugabe.

The delegation that visited farms just outside Harare was led by Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, a longtime Mugabe opponent now part of
a unity government.

A politician from Mugabe’s ZANU(PF), lands minister Herbert Murerwa, also went along.

"What I see here is not pleasing," Mutambara told reporters who
accompanied the tour. "There is a lot of violence, disruption. … I
shall make sure that they (invaders) have vacated the farms and the
legal owners are allowed to continue with their activities."

Politicians and rights groups say continuing seizures of white-owned
farms threaten the reforms Zimbabwe needs to end its economic crisis.

Many believe the crisis began in the first place because the
agricultural-based economy was disrupted by a land redistribution
campaign that Mugabe began in 2000.

The number of white farmers has dropped from about 4 000 to 400, and farms have ended up in the hands of Mugabe cronies.

Mugabe blames Western sanctions for his country’s woes.

Farm invader Landmine Shamuyarira was defiant on Friday, claiming one
of the farms Mutambara visited belongs to his brother Nathan
Shamuyarira, a prominent Zanu-PF politician.

"We are not going anywhere," Landmine Shamuyarira said. "Mutambara and
his ministers are wasting their time to come here. We are now the
owners of this farm."

‘I am not going anywhere’

Brian Bronkhorst and his family had raised cattle on the farm, Violet
Valea, before being forced off. Bronkhorst is among a group of
commercial farmers that has challenged farm seizures in a regional

At another farm on Friday, Mutambara’s delegation found Farai
Madzongwe, daughter of a Zanu-PF senator, living in the main house and
supported by a police guard.

Richard Etheridge, who also has challenged Mugabe’s land reforms in
court, said his family had grown citrus on the land for 35 years before
being forced out last month by the Madzongwes.

"This farm now belongs to us," Madzongwe said on Friday. "I am not going anywhere."

The coalition government agreed to end farm seizures but they have
continued, raising questions about how much influence politicians like
Mutambara have in the new government.

Farmers’ organisations have said about 100 farms have been targeted, most by Mugabe party officials and their supporters.

Western donors who have had tense relations with Mugabe have yet to
respond to the unity government’s pleas for financial help, waiting to
see if it will be able to control Zanu-PF hard-liners.

News24/Associated Press(AP)

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