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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Zimbabwe speeds up farmer evictions
Looted farm
Farmers will be forced out within days of eviction orders
Zimbabwe's parliament has adopted new legislation making it easier to evict white farmers.

The new law will force farmers to leave their land within a week of being served eviction notices, rather than the 90-day deadline previously in place.

Many farmers had used the 90 days to appeal against their eviction orders, many of which were subsequently annulled by the High Court.


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's land reform

  • 1890-1980: Black peasants were moved to less fertile areas during the colonial era
  • 2000: 4,000 whites own 70% of prime land
  • March 2000: 'War veterans' occupy white-owned farms
  • 2000-2002: Several white farmers and black workers killed during violence
  • 9 August 2002: 3,000 white farmers ordered to leave their homes

  • September 2002: 2,500 farmers defy evictions
  • Under the new law, these cancelled eviction orders can be reissued.

    Zimbabwe's opposition has called the amendments to the land laws unconstitutional, saying they effectively deny farmers the protection of the courts.

    The BBC's Hilary Andersson in Johannesburg says the legislation is a major setback for farmers and a victory for President Robert Mugabe in his attempt to redistribute the country's farmland to black Zimbabweans.

    The fight for land in Zimbabwe has now moved into a critical stage, she says.

    Another measure passed by parliament, which is dominated by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, sharply increases the fines payable by farmers who resist eviction orders.

    The fine is now 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($1,800) - a five-fold increase on the previous figure.

    Most of the 2,900 farmers ordered to quit have defied the orders, and many have now had charges laid against them by the police.

    Target missed

    Correspondents say the government is frustrated by its inability to legally take possession of the farms.

    Mr Mugabe had promised his supporters that his "land revolution" would be completed by the end of last month.

    Child with withered maize crop
    Food shortages are reaching critical levels
    The United States and Britain say that some of the land which has been seized has been given to Mr Mugabe's political associates and military leaders, instead of the landless blacks he has promised to help.

    Zimbabwe is currently facing a severe food crisis, with up to six million people - half the population needing aid.

    Aid agencies and Mr Mugabe critics say this has been worsened by the disruption to agriculture caused by his land reform programme.

    He denies this, saying that 70% of food crops are grown by black farmers and that poor rains caused the failed harvests.


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    10 Sep 02 | Africa
    25 Aug 02 | Africa
    06 Sep 02 | Hardtalk
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    25 Jun 02 | Africa
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