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The BBC's John Leyne
"One of President Mugabe's strongest warnings so far"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Mugabe eyes all white farms
Mugabe and party members
Mugabe's party is preparing for elections
President Robert Mugabe has warned that all white-owned farms in Zimbabwe could be taken over by the government.

Authorities have so far earmarked 841 white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks, but during talks with his supporters, Mr Mugabe said the process would go further.



None of us who is revolutionary will want their career to end before land is given to the people

President Mugabe
For his part, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has criticised South Africa's ruling African National Congress for endorsing Mr Mugabe's land policy.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has also set up a telephone helpline for people who have been left off the voters' roll ahead of forthcoming elections.

Mr Mugabe said any white ownership of land should not be determined by colonial history but by the charity of black Zimbabweans.

"It is not just the 841 farms that we are looking at. We are looking at the totality of our land," the president said.



The people of Zimbabwe are the ones that are going to be short-changed by an irrational leader

Morgan Tsvangirai
Thousands of liberation war veterans and supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms since February, demanding land they say was stolen during the British colonial era.

Mr Tsvangirai accused Mr Mugabe of "thumb-sucking" policies that were no longer rational.

"The people of Zimbabwe are the ones that are going to be short-changed by an irrational leader, an irrational government," the opposition leader said.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on 24-25 June, in parliamentary elections that have been dominated by the land issue.

ANC criticised

Mr Tsvangirai also hit out at South Africa's ANC after the party's Secretary-General, Kgalema Motlanthe, wrote a newspaper article supporting Mr Mugabe's stand on the land issue.


Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai: ANC support for Mugabe "counter-productive"
"The ANC's endorsement of Zanu-PF is counter-productive. We would have hoped they would have done all in their power to back a free and fair election," Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference.

Mr Tsvangirai said the ANC was undermining the MDC's credibility, by claiming that the level of violence in the Zimbabwe violence had been exaggerated.

"To publicly comment that there is no violence and that the figures that are being put forward are erroneous I think is just not taking reality into consideration," the MDC leader said.

Hotline

Mr Tsvangirai also said his party had set up a phone hotline after hearing reports that potential supporters had been left off the voters' roll.

"They have deliberately left off thousands of young people, precisely the sort of people who are the MDC's most ardent supporters," he said.


MDC supporters
The MDC believes its supporters are being left off the voters' roll
MDC election director Paul Nyathi said the party's Harare office had received 100 calls on Wednesday morning alone.

He said the complaints had come from young adults, both black and white.

Attacks on opposition

The MDC and another opposition party, the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, say Zanu-PF supporters have beaten and killed some of their supporters.

At least 27 people, mostly MDC supporters, have been killed, hundreds beaten and thousands forced to flee in violence accompanying a government-sponsored land grab over the past three months.

But Zanu-PF supporters have said that the land issue should not be linked to the elections.

The national secretary of the veterans' association, Andrew Ndlovu, warned international observers to stick to monitoring the poll.

"If they start to monitor the land issue, they will be creating violence," Mr Ndlovu said.

In Britain, Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain accused President Mugabe of wrecking the economy and called on him to ensure a free and fair election.

"Neither Britain nor the international community can make this election fair. Only Robert Mugabe can do that, and he seems determined not to," Mr Hain said.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe fear spreads
19 May 00 | Africa
EU to observe Zimbabwe campaign
16 May 00 | Africa
Tough test for Zanu-PF
26 Apr 00 | Africa
Who owns the land?
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