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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Zimbabwe court nullifies evictions
Protest against Mugabe at the World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa
Protests against Mugabe at the World Summit
A Zimbabwean court has nullified eviction orders served on 54 white farmers - ruling that they were illegally served.


If they wish to lawfully acquire the farms at issue, they must follow their own laws.

Jeremy Callow, farmers' lawyer

The High Court ruling came shortly after President Robert Mugabe warned that he was not prepared to negotiate with white farmers over land.

A lawyer representing the farmers in the latest case said new eviction orders would now have to be prepared and issued if the farms were to be confiscated.

The government has previously ignored several court rulings against it, with President Mugabe saying that he would abide only by rulings he considered just.

Black settlers

"We will have to wait and see what action the government wishes to take," Jeremy Callow, who represented the reprieved farmers, told Associated Press news agency.

"If they wish to lawfully acquire the farms at issue, they must follow their own laws."

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe now seems to suggest that the road to dialogue is blocked

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been urging new black settlers to ignore court challenges and move onto targeted farms to begin reparations ahead of the year-end rainy season.

However, a pressure group supporting the farmers, Justice for Agriculture, says the ruling enables the 54 farmers to resume production on their land.

At the same time, the Zimbabwe government is facing increasing criticism outside the country over its land policy.

The BBC's Alistair Leithead in Johannesburg says international pressure is mounting on Zimbabwe to stop land seizures - especially with the World Summit on Sustainable Development taking place in neighbouring South Africa.

But he says the hardline determination to evict the white farmers as soon as possible continues.

Political unrest

Mr Annan joined criticism of the regime, urging Zimbabwe and its president to change the land reform policy, to compensate the farmers and to ensure those receiving land know what to do with it in order to prevent a looming famine.

About 2,900 white farmers - employing an estimated 230,000 workers - were ordered off their land by 8 August.

A food queue
Up to 6 million people could starve in Zimbabwe

Nearly 200 of those who refused to comply were arrested, but were later freed on bail and ordered not to return to their land.

The land conflict has added to political unrest during which about 186 mostly opposition supporters - including 11 white farmers - have been killed over the past two years.

Aid agencies say a drought and the land seizures are causing widespread food shortages, threatening half of Zimbabwe's 12.2 million people.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"Committed to pushing the eviction of white farmers even further"

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26 Aug 02 | Africa
25 Aug 02 | Africa
25 Aug 02 | Africa
14 Aug 02 | Politics
11 Jul 02 | Africa
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