End attacks on white farmers – Prime Minister

Harare – Zimbabwe Premier Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday demanded an end to violence on white-owned farms, as farmers said militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe have tried to seize dozens of properties.

Tsvangirai denounced the attacks, saying the violence was undermining efforts to revive the shattered agricultural sector, which was once the backbone of the economy.

"A new wave of disruptions of farming operations… are undermining our ability to revive our agricultural sector and restore investor confidence," Tsvangirai told a news conference.

Tsvangirai, who joined veteran ruler Mugabe in a unity government nearly two weeks ago, said the invasions were in breach of the power-sharing deal that paved the way for their coalition.

"I have asked the ministers of home affairs… to bring the full weight of the law down on the perpetrators who continue to act within a culture of impunity and entitlement," he said. "No person in Zimbabwe is above law."

Settlement on the farms

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents mainly white farmers, said attacks by militants from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party have increased over the last month and urged the government to take action.

"We still have farmers being prosecuted, farmers being evicted and in the latest incident armed Zabu-PF youth are patrolling and hanging around a farm in Chegutu," CFU chief executive Hendrik Olivier told AFP.

"As of yesterday, we had 77 incidents. We don’t see any change with the unity government. We have a settlement among politicians at the top. We don’t have a settlement on the farms."

Mugabe began a violent campaign of land reforms in 2000, which saw militants forcibly evict white farmers from their land with his government’s support.

He styled the campaign as redress for colonial-era inequities, but the unrest took a strong political colouring and was often linked to attacks on supporters of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.

The collapse of commercial farming has created chronic food shortages in Zimbabwe, with more than half the population now dependent on international handouts.

– AFP