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Zimbabwe Farm Invasions Resume Despite Impending IMF Visit

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has urged the Harare cabinet to halt a new wave of farm invasions targeting agricultural properties on the peripheries of large cities where growers of flowers for export markets tend to be clustered.

Official sources said Gono may be heading for a showdown with cabinet members led by State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, said to be directing this new stage of the land redistribution program the country has pursued for the better part of a decade.

The latest invasion was carried out by members of the national police force at Gletwyn Farm, between the Harare suburbs of Mandara and Glen Lorne. In addition to flowers, the farm grew seed maize, potatoes, soy beans and a range of fresh vegetables.

One police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the farm was seized for the construction of residences for top police officials. The assistance commissioner said the seizure of the farm, not listed for takeover, received Mutasa’s approval.

Such agricultural property invasions have drawn sharp criticism from the International Monetary Fund, whose latest delegation is expected in Harare later this month.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Harare economist John Robertson what impact the invasions might have on Harare’s relations with the IMF.

Elsewhere in the agro-alimentary complex, a longstanding shortage of the staple food maize could worsen in some areas following the Grain Marketing Board’s decision to refuse to sell raw grain to some private millers. This flouted a November order from the high court telling the GMB to sell maize to the Mwendas Milling Company, whose lawyers said they have asked that the GMB be declared in contempt of court.

Industry sources said other companies have stopped milling because the GMB, which has an effective monopoly on grain supplies, refuses to sell grain to them.

GMB Chief Executive Officer Samuel Muvuti denied these allegations in an interview with Studio 7 reporter Carole Gombakomba. She also spoke with Mwendas Milling Company Managing Director Takesure Mbano, who said he has been obliged to temporarily abandon his home because of constant harassment by soldiers.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...