Zimbabwe steps up white-owned farm grabs

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe is stepping up the confiscation of white-owned farms before a new power-sharing unity government can begin to take the reins, critics say.

Agricultural officials, soldiers and police loyal to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have seized 77 white-owned farms within the last few weeks as opposition Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who opposes the confiscations, settles into his job, the BBC reported Monday.


Commercial Farmers Union President Trevor Gifford told the broadcaster that the invasions are being carried out by a clique of ZANU-PF loyalists who were "using their offices to ensure ethnic cleansing can take place before the prime minister is able to stabilize the country.

"This is being led by members of the old regime in ZANU-PF who are not willing to see the transition take place to a new unity government," Gifford told the BBC.

Zimbabwe, which is already facing a severe food crisis, will likely see the situation worsen since the farms were seized in the middle of the growing season, he said.

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