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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 06:48 GMT
Bishop calls on Mugabe to quit
Zimbabwean queuing up to receive food aid
Up to six million Zimbabweans need food aid

A leading Zimbabwean churchman has called on President Robert Mugabe to stand down because his controversial land reform programme is ruining the country's economy and putting millions at risk of hunger.

The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, says black farmworkers are the real victims when white farms are handed over to government supporters.

Mr Mugabe, he says, seems ready to starve his own people to keep power.

Travelling around Zimbabwe you cannot miss the effects of Robert Mugabe's land reforms:

  • Lorries are loaded with goods hastily cleared from their homes by white farmers

  • 6,000 commercial farms have now become 200

  • Up to one million black farmworkers who do not share in the re-distribution sleep rough or in refugee camps

Most settlers moving onto white lands do not have the seeds, the tools or the know-how to grow crops so land lies bare and unploughed in this sowing season.

Everywhere queues for basic foods like maize and bread get longer daily.

Aid effort hampered

The Archbishop of Bulawayo told the BBC that Zimbabwe's economy was in tatters, with both professional people and the poor leaving the country in droves because of Mr Mugabe.

Archbishop Pius Ncube
Archbishop Ncube is a long-time Mugabe critic

He said the president did not care if his people starved and he should stand down.

Aid agencies have already warned that up to six million Zimbabweans face severe hunger because of drought.

They will admit privately that land reform has hastened a crisis but will not criticise the government publicly because it is drawing up laws to restrict, even ban, their operations if food is not distributed as it sees fit.

That means it goes to government supporters, the evidence shows.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Donkin
"Zimbabwe is falling apart"
Zanu PF's Chief Whip Joram Gumbo:
"No leader wants to see his people die of hunger"

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06 Sep 02 | Africa
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