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Boosting Zimbabwe Post-Election Tension, War Veterans Invade Farms

Veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war have taken over a least a dozen white-owned farms in Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces in a surge of violence backing President Robert Mugabe's bid to retain power despite electoral setbacks.

From Masvingo, correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported that war veterans leader Isaiah Muzenda was urging his followers to evict all the remaining white farmers in the province, a key electoral battleground.

In Manicaland, war veterans issued letters threatening remaining white farmers. The letters, copies of some of which were obtained by VOA, stated, "If you are celebrating the outcome of the (March 29 presidential, general and local) elections, be advised that you risk vacating that location unceremoniously forthwith.”

Executive Director John Worsely-Worswick of Justice for Agriculture, an organization representing white farmers dispossessed by Zimbabwean land reform since 2000, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that these latest farm invasions by veterans and ZANU-PF youths are particularly disturbing.

Political Commentator Farai Maguwu said Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is using white commercial farmers as a scapegoat to instill fear in Zimbabweans who voted for the opposition, which has taken control of the lower house of parliament and whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, claims to have won the presidential ballot.

The official presidential election results have not been released and Tsvangirai's branch of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has sought a court order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release them immediately. But Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is pressing for a presidential runoff election.

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