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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 April, 2004, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Mugabe hosts anti-colonial summit
President Mugabe
President Mugabe wants to breathe new life into anti-colonial struggles
Zimbabwe is hosting a meeting of former African guerrilla leaders and freedom fighters to argue for land reform.

An official from the ruling Zanu-PF party - itself once a guerrilla force - said the meeting would focus on Zimbabwe's moves to redistribute land.

Talks would also seek ways of boosting the anti-colonial struggle, he said.

President Robert Mugabe's policy of violently taking the farms of minority whites and handing them to landless blacks has sparked global condemnation.

Several western nations have severed ties with President Mugabe's government, blaming his policies for Zimbabwe's economic crisis and food shortages.

But in a recent speech marking the 24th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence from foreign rule, Mr Mugabe said the country's difficulties stemmed from a Western plot to re-colonise it.

Observers say President Mugabe's government will hope the summit shows domestic opponents it still has historic allies in the region - despite its international isolation.

Farm tours

Invitations to the meeting have been sent to the representatives of former freedom movements in Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.

Didymus Mutasa, the external affairs secretary, told the Agence France Presse new agency he could not confirm who would be attending.

He said delegates would be taken on a tour of farms formerly owned by whites that were now in black hands.

"There is a lot of criticism of our land reform programme and want those who are supporting us to understand why we are doing it," he said.

Falling output

Other issues on the agenda are said to include the status of black minorities in western countries and methods of reviving the struggle against colonialism.

Mr Mugabe recently lambasted fellow African leaders for betraying the anti-colonial struggle by "listening to the enemy".

Thousands of white farmers left Zimbabwe after President Mugabe authorised peasant supporters of his Zanu-PF party to take over their farms in February 2000.

Fearing for their assets, foreign businesses and investors fled Zimbabwe, while agricultural output in the farms that had changed hands dropped drastically.

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