Mutambara tasked to lead fresh farm invasions probe

Harare – Zimbabwe's deputy premier Arthur Mutambara said on Thursday a team of top officials from the unity government was launching an investigation into fresh seizures of white-owned farms.

"Tomorrow we are going to the farms to see for ourselves," Mutambara told journalists.

"A cross-party team is going to the farms to understand what’s happening and take action. We are trying to quickly address this political hygiene matter. It’s a matter of life and death."

Since Zimbabwe’s unity government formed in February, white farmers have reported a surge in violence on their lands, violating the power-sharing deal between long-time President Robert Mugabe and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mutambara had earlier met US ambassador James McGee who expressed concern over the farm violence.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson James Maridadi said the premier had tasked Mutambara with leading the probe into farm disruptions.

Attract foreign investment

Tsvangirai last month decried the fresh wave of farm invasions across the country and warned that those responsible for the farm disruptions risked arrest.

Mugabe, however, has insisted that his controversial land reforms would continue.

The land reforms launched in 2000 aimed to resettle blacks on 4 000 white-owned commercial farms, but the process was marred by politically charged violence.

The scheme has drastically reduced agricultural production, which once accounted for 40% of the economy, as most of its beneficiaries lacked both farming equipment and expertise.

While a decade ago, Zimbabwe produced enough maize to feed the nation and export a surplus, now more than half its people are estimated to need food aid.

Zimbabwe’s new government wants to attract foreign investment and trade, but major donors have proved reluctant to open their wallets, in part because of the ongoing farm violence.

– AFP