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Vol 44 No 4

Published 21st February 2003


This land is our land

A secret government report shows how officials are grabbing farms and violently evicting landless farmers

A confidential government audit of Zimbabwe's land reform has found widespread evidence of corrupt allocations and the use of violence by senior politicians and military officers to evict landless small farmers the very people President Robert Mugabe claimed the land reform policy would help. Reports of corruption and abuses uncovered by the auditors will embarrass Mugabe, who has staked his domestic reputation on the speedy transfer of land to Zimbabwe's more than two million landless poor farmers. Now, from the government's own investigations, it appears that not only has the policy precipitated a catastrophic fall in food crop production which, along with the regional drought, is causing as many as seven million Zimbabweans to go hungry but above all, the policy has financially benefitted the nomenklatura of Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). The audit (1) , of which Africa Confidential has obtained a copy, reveals that some of the worst violations of the land reform policy were committed by Mugabe's closest political allies, such as Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, as well as Mugabe's sister, Sabina Mugabe. This is the President's dilemma: his credibility with the ZANU-PF grassroots supporters demands action against violators named in the audit but many of these are major figures in his own political network.

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