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Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
Farm invasion threatens business
So-called war veterans sing liberation songs during a farm occupation
The occupations have been going on since last year
The occupiers of a foreign-owned ostrich farm in Zimbabwe have cut water to the site, threatening the survival of the birds and the multi-million-dollar business, the state news agency has reported.

So-called war veterans have occupied the farm as part of their drive to seize white-owned farms for landless blacks.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe says the occupations will continue
A spokesman for the company that runs the farm says the action jeopardises 500 jobs and an important foreign-currency earner for Zimbabwe, which suffers serious financial problems.

On Friday, President Robert Mugabe vowed to push ahead with his controversial land reform programme, despite international criticism.

But the government has reportedly tried to get the squatters to end the occupation of the Dollar Bubi ostrich farms, the Ziana state news agency reported.

The Indonesian-owned farms were projected to earn 1.5 billion Zimbabwean dollars from the export of ostrich meat and skins this year.

Suffering

A spokeswoman for Dollar Bubi told Ziana that the birds were suffering due to the lack of water and other harassment.

Ostrich on a farm
The birds are a valuable business
"The ostrich rearing and breeding environment is an extremely sensitive one and great care has to be taken to ensure food and water are readily available," the unnamed spokeswoman said.

The occupation of white-owned farms has been going on since last year, spearheaded by people who say they are veterans of the country's 1970s war against colonialism.

One of the leaders of the war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, died last week of malaria.

He was declared a national hero and given a state funeral last Friday.

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See also:

04 Jun 01 | Africa
Mugabe henchman dies
08 May 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe's urban terror
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
03 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Zimbabwe
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