Mugabe says no farm invasions in Zimbabwe

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe on Friday denied that farm invasions were taking place in Zimbabwe but vowed to continue land reforms, as the country's unity government launched a probe into fresh grabs.


"There are no invasions taking place at all. Farmers are refusing to
vacate and they are being intransigent," Mugabe said in a pre-recorded
interview broadcast on the eve of the country’s 29th anniversary of
independence.

"Neither shall we stop land apportionment or resettlement because farmers are crying foul."

Mugabe’s remarks were broadcast hours after Zimbabwe deputy prime
minister Arthur Mutambara vowed to act against illegal farm invasions
amid claims that a top lawmaker had seized a farm in Chegutu, south
west of Harare.

"There will be no holy cows. The axe will hit where it may and we will
not tolerate any government official who is prolonging lawlessness in
the country," Mutambara said while leading a government team to the
area.

Farmers in the area told officials that there had been disruptions on
17 farms since January and that Zimbabwe’s senate president, a Mugabe
ally, had seized a farm.

Fresh farm grabs have further tarnished the country’s image abroad as
it desperately seeks foreign investment to kickstart the economy after
years of ruin, Mutambara told reporters.

"Our country is trying to attract investment, attract foreign aid, we
can’t afford to be damaging business confidence in this country," he
said.

White farmers have reported a surge in violence despite a power-sharing
deal between long-time Mugabe and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
who formed a unity government in February.

The land reforms launched in 2000 aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000
white-owned commercial farms, but the process was marred by politically
charged violence.

On Friday, Mugabe called on western nations to lift sanctions and
prodded his government partners to join his campaigning against them.

The new government had achieved a measure of stability, he said.

Mugabe has repeatedly called for an end to the sanctions, which include
a travel ban and asset freeze against him and his inner circle.

But there was little chance of aid from former colonial power Britain while he remained in power, he said.

"As long as I am head of state of this country Britain is not likely to
direct funds here," he said. "We don’t want funds that are given
because certain groups of people are favourites. We want funds given on
an objective basis."

Zimbabwe is trying to raise 8.5 billion dollars (6.5 billion euros)
over three years to support the new government and help revive the
country’s shattered economy.

Zimbabwe will on Saturday celebrate 29 years of independence from white minority rule — all under Mugabe’s rule.

Yahoo/Agence France Presse (AFP)

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