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Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK

World: Africa

Mugabe warns of land reform 'anarchy'

The government's reform plans target whte-owned land

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has predicted anarchy unless land reform is carried out in the country.

BBC's Joseph Winter: Donor representatives have expressed their reservations
He was speaking at the start of an international conference in Harare, which he hopes will raise funds for redistribution of land.

"If we delay in resolving the land needs of our people, they will resettle themselves," Mr Mugabe said.

"It has happened before and it may happen again."

[ image: Mugabe: Says government cannot afford reform plan]
Mugabe: Says government cannot afford reform plan
Mr Mugabe told potential donors that if they did not fund his five-year programme - estimated at $1.5bn - squatting would increase to the point of anarchy.

Most of the country's best agricultural land has been owned by a few thousand white people since colonial times.

Millions of poor black families remain cramped together in overused barren areas.

In recent months, hundreds of poor families have invaded white-owned farms, accusing the government of breaking a promise to redistribute land, made at independence in l980.

But the World Bank country director has cautioned that it is unwise to attempt too much at once and that poorly executed reform would have serious economic and social consequences.

And speaking on behalf of the European Union, Austrian ambassador to Zimbabwe Peter Lietenbauer , said land reform "should be part of a transparent, integrated and consultative process which increases production and alleviates poverty".

Previous reform programmes have been tainted by corruption.

Potential donors to the latest plan say they will monitor the process very closely to verify that land goes to the right people before signing any cheques.

One diplomat was also reported to have said that the timing of the conference was unfortunate as Zimbabwe is spending millions of dollars sending troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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