Zim police thwart property invasion, says minister

Zimbabwean police drove out scores of so-called war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe after they declared themselves new owners of several tourist resorts, a minister and media reports said on Monday.

The seizures on Saturday near Lake Chivero, west of the capital, Harare, were ostensibly part of Mugabe’s land reforms, launched in 2000 in what he described as a bid to correct ownership imbalances in the former British colony.

But Minister of State Jameson Timba said the latest confiscations were illegal and he had called in police to put a stop to them after he received pleas from the businesses’ owners.

“They were moved out yesterday by riot police,” Timba, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is in a power-sharing government with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, told Agence France-Presse.

“There were about 200 of them. Fortunately there was no damage to property.”

Police could not be reached for comment.

Often-chaotic campaign
Independent daily newspaper NewsDay said its reporters saw a banner at the properties emblazoned with Mugabe’s portrait and the slogan “100 percent empowerment and total independence”.

Zimbabwe’s land reform has been an often-chaotic campaign that has seen 4 500 largely white-owned farms expropriated by the state after being seized by people claiming to be veterans of the liberation war.

Zanu-PF on Monday denied involvement in Saturday’s seizures.

“These actions could not have been perpetrated by our members,” Ignatius Chombo, Zanu-PF’s secretary for land reform, told the state-run Herald newspaper.

“Zanu-PF will not support such behaviour,” said Chombo, who is also minister for local government in the power-sharing coalition.—AFP

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