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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Zimbabwe farming ban defied
Looted farm
Many of Zimbabwe's farms have been looted
An order to almost 3,000 white farmers in Zimbabwe to stop working and begin leaving their land has been widely ignored as many vowed to stay put.

White farmers
2,900 must stop farming
500 have given up land
One court case won by the government
95% of white-owned farms listed for acquisition
CFU membership down by 30%
Source: CFU
They were told to stop working at midnight on Monday, and now have 45 days to leave their farms or face imprisonment, under a deadline imposed by Zimbabwe's government.

The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) says farmers do not want to leave their crops to rot at a time when a severe food shortage is affecting millions of Zimbabweans

The policy of confiscating white-owned farms was begun by President Robert Mugabe over two years ago, and his critics say it is partly to blame for the food shortages.


In some areas of Zimbabwe, the ban comes into effect when white farmers are still harvesting sugarcane.

Sign on farm
War veterans have spearheaded the government's land push
The number of farmers affected represents about 60% of the total of white farmers who were in Zimbabwe at the time that land seizures began.

One farmer has been quoted as saying that you cannot wind up 50 years' work in 45 days.

Last month the government passed the legislation giving farmers until 10 August to stop working land which has been listed for acquisition and redistribution.

A spokeswoman said farmers would finalise papers on Tuesday to make a court appeal against the ruling.

Government spokesmen have not commented on the issue, but one official complained to Reuters news agency that the farmers were using the deadlines as a "propaganda war".

'Man-made crisis'

Zimbabwe is facing severe food shortages as a result of a drought and a crippled economy.

Since the beginning of June almost all domestic grain stocks have been exhausted, and nearly two-thirds of the country's needs are not being supplied.

Launch new window : Southern Africa famine
In pictures: Southern Africa famine

For a country that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa this is nothing short of a disaster.

International aid agencies - including World Food Programme - say the food shortages are directly linked to the often chaotic redistribution of land.

They warn that about half of the country's 14 million people might be in need of food assistance by the end of the of the year.

Farmers in Zimbabwe also say the food crisis in mainly man-made.

"When one looks at it, the drought was a minor drought - it was nothing compared to the 1991-92 drought," Mac Crawford, cattle farmer in Matabeleland, said.

"But yet we're facing a major disaster... for the simple reason of politics."

But the government says that by taking land from white farmers and giving it to landless black peasants, it is ensuring greater self-sufficiency in the future.

The BBC's David Shukman
"As many as 13 million people could be at risk"
Jenni Williams, Commercial Farmer's Union
"It's unlikely a majority of farmers will down tools"
Zanu PF supporter George Shire
"What we will see is an increase in food production"

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See also:

25 Jun 02 | Africa
15 May 02 | Africa
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03 May 02 | Africa
13 Mar 02 | Africa
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