Mugabe backs down on land-grab threat

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The Independent Online
The plan by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to confiscate 1,400 white-owned farms has been halted - probably indefinitely - by conditions imposed on new loans by the World Bank and the European Union.

For months Mr Mugabe, whose government's popularity has slumped, had been threatening a land-grab after the May harvest, with little or no compensation for owners.

It appears rhetoric finally gave way to economic reality at the weekend, when the government persuaded the World Bank to release $60m (pounds 36.5m) and the EU to release $20m of frozen budget support.

In return, the government pledged to respect the constitution, which guarantees compensation to those affected by land reform.