- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004


HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Robert Mugabe moved against Zimbabwe’s last handful of white landowners yesterday when a new law allowed the seizure of large plantations and estates.

Among those stripped of all protection from confiscation are the huge Hippo Valley sugar estates, owned by Anglo American PLC, and the British-owned Eastern Highlands Plantations.

Mr. Mugabe’s regime has already taken more than 90 percent of land belonging to individual white farmers, a few hundred of whom remain.

The way is now clear for the seizure of several large plantations growing tea, citrus fruit and sugarcane simply by publishing a notice of intent in the government’s Gazette, a publication sold by government printers.

Earlier in the week, the Zimbabwean Parliament passed a law that will allow the government to take land more easily from white farmers.

Parliament, which is dominated by lawmakers from Mr. Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), passed an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act after intense debate Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Inter-Africa New Agency reported.

The new law allows the government to acquire white-owned farms by simply publishing a notice of intention to take over the land.

It eliminates the old requirement that a preliminary notice of acquisition by the government should be served personally on the farm owner.

Some 4,500 whites used to own a third of the country’s land — 70 percent of prime farmland — before the government launched a “fast-track” land reform program in 2000.

Fewer than 400 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and own 3 percent of the land.

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