Zimbabwe Moves Blacks to White Farms

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Mon Nov 13 12:31:02 MST 2000



Zimbabwe Moves Blacks to White Farms

By ANGUS SHAW
.c The Associated Press


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Government officials moved thousands of landless
blacks onto white-owned farms over the weekend, despite a Supreme Court order
banning the resettlements, farmers said Monday.

The government has promised to confiscate without compensation 3,000
white-owned farms, divide them up and give them to landless blacks. But the
Supreme Court ruled Friday that rapid, unplanned resettlement was illegal
because it did not meet the terms of land reform laws passed by the ruling
party in April.

Despite the ruling, black families were escorted onto at least 50 farms
across the country, according to the Commercial Farmers Union, which
represents about 4,000 white farmers.

About 1,000 people were moved Saturday onto one property, 60 miles northwest
of Harare, owned by Tim Henwood, leader of the farmers' union.

State officials were shown a copy of Friday's court ruling but ignored it,
saying it had not been formally served on the heads of their departments in
Harare.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo were expected to be served the ruling Monday and would then have to
notify rural offices, the officials said.

The government, which has refused to reimburse farmers for the seized land,
issued an official notice late Friday saying it did not have the money to
immediately compensate the farmers as promised for buildings, dams,
irrigation systems and other fixed installations on their land.

Henwood described the announcement as ``a gross deprivation.''

``Farmers put a lot of resources into developing their properties. We had
expected those affected would be paid'' at the time of confiscation, he said.

The government has said it would not compensate the white farmers for the
land itself, which it says was seized from blacks without payment by
colonial-era white settlers before independence in 1980.

The Supreme Court said Friday the government had failed to observe legal
steps required to seize private land.

Made, the agriculture minister, told state radio Saturday the court ruling
would not hinder the government's hastened land reform program.

The Supreme Court also ordered police to end ruling party militants' illegal
occupation of 1,700 white-owned farms. The often-violent occupations,
described by President Robert Mugabe as a justified protest against whites'
disproportionate ownership of the best farmland, began in February. Police
have ignored previous court orders to end the occupations.

AP-NY-11-13-00 1106EST








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