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William Hughes, president of the CFU
"Indicative of the breakdown of law and order we've experienced"
 real 28k

Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Fifth white farmer killed
Grieving relatives of a Zimbabwean villager killed, they say, for supporting the opposition
Also in mourning: Most of those killed have been black opposition members
By Greg Barrow in Harare

Another white farmer has been killed in Zimbabwe, the fifth known to have died since violence erupted on Zimbabwe's farms earlier this year.

The Commercial Farmers Union or CFU says it is unclear whether the farmer, Tony Oakes, was killed in a criminal act or a politically motivated attack.

Reports say that one of his assailants was also killed when Mr Oakes tried to defend himself.

At least 25 people have been killed in what is being seen as politically-motivated attacks on opposition supporters, most of them black Zimbabweans.

Crime or politics

The CFU says that Mr Oakes was shot dead during an armed confrontation with two intruders who had broken into his home.

President Mugabe
President Mugabe remains defiant

He lived on a farm in Trelawney, north of the capital, Harare.

With many white farmers facing invasions of their property by supporters of the governing Zanu-PF party, the lines between violent crime and political intimidation have become blurred.

Political leaders across the party divide have noted that criminal elements are taking advantage of the turmoil in the Zimbabwean countryside and exploiting the weakness of the overstretched national police force.

Government list

The murder comes as the Zimbabwean Government is preparing to publish a list of more than 800 farms which it says it will acquire and redistribute to landless peasants.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
Political leaders say criminals are exploiting police weakness

This will happen under new legislation which was rushed through the Zanu-PF-dominated parliament shortly before its dissolution ahead of elections next month.

The government is pressing ahead with its own land redistribution programme after international donor nations, like the former colonial power Britain, refused to release funds for the purchase of land because of the violence and intimidation in the countryside.

The Zimbabwean Government will make quick political capital out of its land redistribution exercise, but observers say the long-term effect on the country's economy and international image will be disastrous.

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See also:

19 May 00 | Africa
EU to observe Zimbabwe campaign
16 May 00 | Africa
Tough test for Zanu-PF
21 Apr 00 | Africa
Thousands join Zimbabwe march
15 May 00 | Africa
What can the Commonwealth do?
18 May 00 | Africa
'No land crisis in SA' - Mbeki
18 May 00 | UK Politics
Blair and Mbeki unite over Zimbabwe
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