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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai's Party Threatens to Take Land Invasions to Regional Group


PM Tsvangirai's party said the divisive issue of continuing takeovers of white-owned commercial farms under the guise of land reform might be added to the other outstanding issues under discussion in Harare

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday that it may ask the Southern African Development Community to intervene to halt farm invasions in the country.

The party said the divisive issue of the continuing takeovers of white-owned commercial farms under the guise of land reform might be added to the other outstanding issues under discussion between the Tsvangirai MDC and the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.

The smaller MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is also involved in the talks, but Mr. Tsvangirai's former opposition party and ZANU-PF are the main protagonists in the long-running dispute.

The outstanding issues include Mr. Mugabe's unilateral appointments of the attorney general and the central bank chief in late 2008, following the signature of a Global Political Agreement for power sharing but before the unity government was put in place in February 2009.

The latest wave of takeovers of about 150 remaining white-owned commercial farms is said to be directed by ZANU-PF ministers, ZANU-PF aligned militia, the Defense Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Before Mr. Mugabe launched land reform in 2000 there were more than 4,000 white-owned farms which formed the backbone of the key agricultural sector.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana says the farmers being targeted are those who have resisted eviction. Tomana and the ZANU-PF side of the "inclusive" government have disregarded a decision in favor of scores of the farmers issued by the Southern African Development Community tribunal in late 2008. Tomana denied that the latest farm takeovers are fresh invasions.

A report by the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union says more than 66,000 farm workers have lost their homes since the government was formed 11 months ago and are struggling for survival.

Mr. Tsvangirai and Mutambara have tried to end the takeovers through an inter-ministerial committee and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee established to oversee GPA compliance, but to little avail.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the latest invasions are of serious concern and have the effect of discouraging much-needed foreign direct investment.

Minister of State Didymus Mutasa in Mr. Mugabe's office said an MDC appeal to SADC will make no difference as land reform will continue.

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