Accessibility links

Breaking News

Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai to Focus on Farm Takeovers in Review of Portfolios

Minister of State Gorden Moyo said Prime Minister Tsvangirai will consult this week with all ministers about their portfolios, but the continuing and often violent farm takeovers are of particular concern to him

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe will take up the issue of farm seizures this week with the two co-ministers of home affairs ahead of the year’s first meeting of the council of ministers, political sources said Tuesday.

Sources said Mr. Tsvangirai would also take up the politically charged question with Lands Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa in addition to Co-Ministers of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Giles Mutsekwa of his own Movement for Democratic Change formation.

The Commercial Farmers Union has reported that soldiers have been deployed across the country to ramp up seizures of land belonging to Zimbabwe's few hundred remaining white commercial farmers. There were more than 4,000 white commercial farmers when land reform began in 2000.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the office of the prime minister, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Tsvangirai is having consultations with all ministers about their portfolios, but that the continuing and often violent farm takeovers are of particular concern to him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation has again protested delays in the intra-governmental negotiations intended to resolve a broad range of issues that have troubled the power-sharing Harare government from its inception.

Political sources said ZANU-PF negotiators will put off resumption of the talks until closer to the end of the month when President Mugabe will be back from his annual leave and can be consulted on the most divisive issues.

The ZANU-PF negotiators are said to intend to leave all the major decisions to Mr. Mugabe because of dissent within the former ruling party over the extent to which the party should compromise with Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC.

ZANU-PF hardliners at the party's December congress ruled out concessions until there is progress on lifting sanctions imposed on top ZANU-PF officials by the European Union, the United States and other Western nations.

Tsvangirai MDC negotiator Elton Mangoma said talks did not resume Tuesday as hoped after the negotiations failed to restart Saturday.

VOA was unable to reach ZANU-PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa, minister of justice, or Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwe's transport minister, for comment.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Blessing Zulu that the long slated of outstanding issues may have to be referred to the Southern African Development Community and the African Union for arbitration.

Elsewhere, two Tsvangirai MDC local councilors were detained for more than eight hours Tuesday in Banket, Mashonaland West province, on suspicion of kidnapping former ZANU-PF local council candidate Lancerot Zvirongwe.

MDC sources said Chinhoyi police picked up Fanni Tembo and Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, councilors for Ward 22 and 23, respectively, after a complaint was lodged alleging the kidnapping, which they have denied committing.

Police fingerprinted, took statements and warned and cautioned the two men, who were released after MDC Mashonaland West officials located them - they had been taken from Banket to Chinhoyi during the day.

Tembo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that ZANU-PF was trumping up the charges in a bid to frustrate MDC members of the Banket Council.

In another incident, police in Masvingo arrested the chairman of the province's branch of the Tsvangirai MDC formation based on a complaint from a man who said party official Wilstaff Sitimere owed him US$4,000.

Masvingo Urban Member of Parliament Tongai Matutu said he was shocked that a civil dispute was politicized, leading to the arrest. The provincial party chairman was later released, Masvingo MDC sources said.