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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 02:52 GMT
UN land team in Harare
Self-styled war veterans
White-owned farms have been occupied for 18 months
A United Nations team has arrived in Zimbabwe to see if September's land deal reached in the Nigerian capital Abuja is being respected.

In the accord, the Zimbabwean Government promised to end illegal occupations of white-owned farms as well as to respect human rights and the rule of law.

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe has his sights set on elections next year
In return, Britain agreed to help fund the multi-million dollar programme.

But in recent weeks the violence has continued and President Robert Mugabe has introduced a controversial decree, amending the land reform law.

This effectively means that farmers on land that has been listed by the state must stop farming immediately and that the courts cannot be consulted about the legality of this until after the event.

Contrary

Zimbabwe's white farmers have condemned this as undemocratic and contrary to the Abuja accord.

An independent newspaper in Zimbabwe has condemned it as proof that Mr Mugabe is intent on using his land reform programme to ensure that he wins elections coming up early next year.

The Financial Gazette reports that all of Zimbabwe's thousands of soldiers will be given land to ensure their support for Mr Mugabe in next year's presidential elections.

During the fact-finding mission, the team from the United Nations Development Programme plans to speak to all stake-holders - the government, white farmers, black farmers and the political opposition.

Amongst many rural landless black Zimbabweans, the reform programme is popular although significant numbers of black Zimbabweans working on the white-owned farms have been negatively affected.

See also:

16 Nov 01 | Africa
Man arrested over Zanu-PF death
10 Oct 01 | Business
Zimbabwe slashes food prices
05 Jul 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe admits food crisis
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