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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
'Thousands of blacks evicted' in Zimbabwe
Black farm-workers fleeing
Farm-workers are being chased from their homes
Some 2,500 black farm-workers have been chased away from their homes in eastern Zimbabwe by self-styled war veterans, according to the Commercial Farmers' Union.

The white-dominated CFU also says that vast swathes of pasture-land has been set on fire in what some farmers say is the latest attempt to drive them off their land.


I think the idea is to drive us out of business and out of farming

White farmer
Reports say that in the eastern tobacco-growing region of Hwedza displaced farm-workers can be seen by the roadside, unsure of what to do or where to go.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made recently said that white farm-owners should leave their farms by the end of August, when the first phase of resettling poor black families would end.

He said that the next phase would be the allocation of land to blacks with enough money to set up as commercial farmers.

August deadline

Correspondents say that the deadline has spurred the occupiers to force both white farm-owners and their black workers to leave the land.


However a judge has ordered that it is illegal to evict either farm-owners or the land occupiers, at least until the end of 2001.

"At least 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of land has been burnt since the weekend," said the CFU.

One farmer told Reuters news agency: "I think the idea is to drive us out of business and out of farming."

Cattle-ranching

The affected farms are mostly in the southern cattle-ranching provinces of Matabeleland, Masvingo and Midlands.

On Wednesday, Matopos National Park in Matabeleland South caught fire, reportedly killing hundreds of animals and leading to the suspension of all safari tours there.

Black workers packing up
Many farm-workers are of foreign origin and have nowhere else to go

The eviction of farm-workers in Hwedza follows reports that 4,500 were displaced by the recent violence around the northern town of Chinhoyi.

Most of Zimbabwe's farm-workers are originally from the neighbouring countries of Malawi, Mozambique or Zambia,

Many have lost contact with their places of origin and have lived on white-owned farms throughout their lives.

Hand-outs

The disruption of Zimbabwe's farming sector by President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme means that a country once seen as southern Africa's bread-basket now faces food shortages.

Mr Mugabe remains undeterred however, and parliament this week approved a $50 million budget to provide tillage and agricultural in-puts for the resettled black farmers.

The farming season begins in November and analysts say that they need seeds and fertilisers by then in order to produce a reasonable crop next year.

See also:

29 Aug 01 | Africa
Fire hits Zimbabwe game park
25 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Gauging opinion in troubled Zimbabwe
16 Aug 01 | Africa
Diplomatic options over Zimbabwe
17 Aug 01 | Africa
Fleeing Zimbabwe for UK
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe targets more white farms
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