Mbeki blames Britain for Zimbabwe woes

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The Independent Online

South African President Thabo Mbeki has blamed Britain and other Western donor nations for the takeovers of white-owned farms by black squatters in neighboring Zimbabwe.

Mbeki, in a televised address to the nation, said that in 1998 he had asked British Prime Minister Tony Blair to contribute money to end land-distribution imbalances in Zimbabwe, a former British colony where one-third of the fertile land is still owned by about 4,000 whites.

Mbeki said he also asked other countries and organisations to contafter Britain, the United States and other countries agreed in September 1998 to provide $10m to buy 118 white-owned farms for resettlement in Zimbabwe, Mugabe announced he was seizing an additional 1,500 farms, in apparent contravention with the agreement.

Mugabe's announcement threw the donors into confusion. They finally suspended the payments after Mugabe supporters began seizing farms and killing farmers and opposition supporters last February.

"The results of the failure to deal with this matter in the manner agreed in 1998 is what has led to the (farm takeovers)," Mugabe said.