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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Mugabe targets farm greed
Children with bread
Shortages of basic foods have followed farm acquisitions
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is reported to have ordered senior ruling party officials to conform to his "one man, one farm" policy under his land reform programme.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that he wanted any extra farms to be relinquished within two weeks.

The controversial land reform programme has seen most of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white farmers evicted from their land, but farm productivity has also declined rapidly.

Aid agencies say this has contributed to food shortages leaving several million Zimbabweans in need of food aid.

Controversy

"President Mugabe said he would not allow people to have more than one farm," ruling party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira told the Herald after a Zanu-PF leadership meeting on Wednesday evening.

"He advised those with multiple farms to choose one and give up the rest to the government for resettlement," he said.

President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe is presiding over economic disaster

President Mugabe's fast-track programme to acquire white-owned commercial farms and redistribute them to landless black Zimbabweans began in 2000.

However, the controversial plan has been hit by violence, lengthy legal battles and criticism that ruling party members were acquiring most of the prime farms.

A Presidential Land Review Committee was appointed earlier this year to look into the implementation of the scheme. Their report is expected to be ready by mid-August.

But leaks have appeared in the press, accusing senior politicians of grabbing the best farms for themselves and even evicting landless peasants, who were supposed to be the main beneficiaries.

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change dismissed the move as a gimmick.

And an official of the white-dominated Commercial Farmers' Union in Harare predicted that President Mugabe would run into difficulty with ruling party stalwarts if he now forced them to relinquish their farms.

Economic ruin

President Mugabe has repeatedly said the government was committed to a "one man, one farm" policy, including white farmers.

However many whites have been evicted from their only properties.

Zimbabwe is mired in a deep economic crisis, with annual inflation running at 365%, according to official figures.

His critics accuse him of ruining the economy, which used to be among the most successful in Africa.

The government blames the economic problems on a plot by western countries opposed to its land reform policy.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Kembo Mohadi, Home Affairs Minister
"One man, one farm does not just apply to white commercial farmers"


MDC's Paul Themba Nyathi on BBC Focus on Africa
"It's too little, too late"


The BBC's Peter Biles
"It is thought that some party officials may have more than half a dozen properties"



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