Zimbabwe threatens war with Britain (!)

Chris Doss itschris13 at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 7 09:37:55 PDT 2000



Mugabe threatens war with



Correspondent in Johannesburg, and


Zimbabwe's increasingly erratic President Robert

Mugabe has threatened to go to war with Britain if

it interferes in his wave of state-sponsored land

grabs, fuelling fears that the veteran politician is

becoming as mad as he is dangerous.

Mr Mugabe's ever-more violent rhetoric is stoking

a crisis many fear could end in serious bloodshed.

His latest outburst came as his entourage stopped

over at Nairobi on the way back from the

European Union-Africa summit in Cairo.

Mr Mugabe said he had told the British Foreign

Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, at the summit that his

country was prepared for war over the need for

reforming ownership of Zimbabwe's best land, a

third of which belongs to 4,000 white farmers.

"If they [Britain] are on the warpath, I told him we

will defend ourselves and if need be we can go

back to the trenches," Mr Mugabe told

Zimbabwean Television. "If they want a war to go

on, well they will have only themselves to blame."

Since the Government's humiliating defeat in a

constitutional referendum in February, thousands

of people claiming to be landless peasants or

veterans of the pre-1980 liberation struggle have

occupied more than 600 white-owned farms.

Local observers claim many of the squatters are

paid supporters of the ruling party.

Mr Mugabe has said they will be allowed to keep

the land after parliamentary elections scheduled for

next month. His government has refused to obey

court orders to remove the squatters.

Yesterday, Mugabe supporters occupied more

white-owned farms. A source in the white

community said four more farms had been overrun

during the night, and a fifth had been occupied

after daybreak in the Mutepatepa district

north-east of Harare.

There were no immediate reports of further

violence following at least 50 shootings, assaults

and burnings between Sunday and Wednesday.

At the weekend, police allowed a gang of 150

"war veterans" to attack a peaceful opposition rally

in the capital with clubs, knives and bricks.

Since then, the opposition Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) says, three of its

supporters have been murdered by gangs loyal to

Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwean African National

Union, including a pregnant woman.

This week a policeman was shot dead as he tried

to arrest "war veterans" who had seriously

assaulted a white farmer near Harare, and eight

paramilitary policemen have been disarmed by

squatters and are believed to be being held


On Wednesday, the MDC reported a wave of

overnight arson attacks on its supporters' homes.

"It is a strategy of subduing the people of

Zimbabwe," the MDC's leader, Mr Morgan

Tsvangirai, said. "It is too ghastly to contemplate

that we can go on with this. If this is an indication

of things to come, then God help this country."

Mr Mugabe's critics say the former liberation

leader is trying to use racial hate to shore up

slumping support in the elections.

Land reform has long been a staple of Mr

Mugabe's politics, raised afresh whenever

elections are in the offing.

This week Zimbabwe's 150 MPs - 147 of them

members of Mr Mugabe's party - began pushing

through a constitutional amendment to confiscate

white-owned farmland and demand Britain then

compensate the owners. This was a key provision

in the draft constitution rejected by voters in


Britain, the former colonial power, agreed to fund

land reform as part of the deal that led to the end

of white rule in 1980, but has since claimed much

of the land acquired under existing schemes has

been misused or handed out to Mugabe cronies. ______________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

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