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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 19:42 GMT
Zimbabwe's farm seizure blocked
White farmer in Zimbabwe
The land reform programme has been accompanied by violence
A southern African regional court has ordered Zimbabwe not to proceed with the seizure of a white farmer's land.

The Namibia-based Southern African Development Community (Sadc) tribunal ruled in favour of Mike Campbell, who argued that the seizure was racist.

The outcome is seen as a blow to President Robert Mugabe's programme to transfer land to the black majority.

The ruling should allow Mr Campbell to remain on his farm until Zimbabwe's Supreme Court hears a group challenge.

Mr Campbell had asked the Sadc tribunal to overturn the seizure of his farm on the grounds that it was an example of racial discrimination, which the Sadc treaty outlaws.

Most of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers have been forced off their land since 2000 under a government programme.

Mr Mugabe, who is set to run for re-election in March, says the programme is to reverse imbalances in land ownership resulting from the colonial era.

His critics say it is a cynical ploy to buy votes by distributing land to his supporters, which has led to a collapse in Zimbabwe's agricultural production.

Mr Campbell is one of 11 farmers from Chegutu, south-west of Harare, who faces criminal charges for refusing to leave his land.

The farmers could face up to two years in jail if found guilty, say reports.

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