Zimbabwe army setting up bases on farms

HARARE — Zimbabwe's unity government has launched a fresh probe into the fresh wave of farm invasions and reported secret army bases by the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe's thugs.\r\n

Top security commanders and senior members of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF party have stepped up farm seizures since the veteran leader formed the unity government with his former bitter rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

It is believed the plan ochestrated by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and his campaign manager Jonathan Moyo is to set up militia bases in farms ahead of the 2011 national elections.

At the weekend, soldiers threatened to shoot the white owner of a farm they seized just before harvest time.

Industry and Trade minister, Professor Welshman Ncube, who is a member of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) – a tripartite body set up to monitor the power sharing agreement – said the invasions had unsettled the unity government.

"JOMIC has deployed teams that are involved in an exercise of visiting farms to gather details regarding farm invasions," he said.

Prof Ncube of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara said JOMIC will meet on Thursday to consider a preliminary report on the disturbances.

"After JOMIC has agreed, we hope that the three principals to the GPA will also agree on measures to resolve contentious issues on these farms."

Mr Tsvangirai’s party says it is considering pulling out of the unity government because Mr Mugabe is a frustrating efforts to return the country to the rule of law.

Security commanders and hardliners in Zanu PF most of who own several farms each seized from whites continue to grab more land, disregarding court orders not to do so.

Prof Ncube said a land audit promised in the power sharing agreement that led to the formation of the unity government has not been carried because there was no money.

In the meantime, influential people from the previous government are said to be helping themselves to prime commercial farms.

Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace have helped themselves to at least farms taken over from white farms.