Mugabe Uses Birthday Bash to Rebuke White Farmers

AP, February 28, 2009

With his nation’s economy in shambles, President Robert Mugabe threw himself a lavish 85th birthday party Saturday, using the opportunity to call on Zimbabwe’s last white farmers to leave.

“Land distribution will continue. It will not stop,” Mugabe said in Chinhoyi, 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Harare. “The few remaining white farmers should quickly vacate their farms as they have no place there.”

{snip} Dozens of the several hundred white farmers left in Zimbabwe are currently challenging the right of its government to confiscate their land before a regional tribunal of Africa judges.

The birthday bash, which reportedly cost $250,000, was held as Zimbabwe’s new unity government failed to secure financial aid to rescue the country’s collapsed economy.

{snip}

“I am still in control and hold executive authority, so nothing much has changed,” Mugabe told a crowd of about 2,000.

There has been a recent upsurge in reported “invasions” of white-owned farms, with one support group saying at least 40 white farmers have been forced off their land since January.

Last year, a regional court ruled that 78 white Zimbabweans could keep their farms, saying the government’s land grab policy was racially motivated.

On Saturday, Mugabe called the ruling “nonsense” and said it was of “no consequence.”

“We have our own laws which govern our own land issues,” he said.

{snip}

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