White farmers charged with bribing poll officials

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The Independent Online

Twelve white farmers have been charged with corruption for offering food to polling officials in Zimbabwe's election as the state media blasted the white minority for supporting the opposition.

A court in Chinhoyi, north-west of Harare, charged the farmers with corruption and possession of radio equipment tuned to police frequencies. Jonathan Samukange, a lawyer for the farmers, said his clients had been released on bail and ordered to surrender their passports.

As vote-counting got under way following the three-day election, the state-owned Herald newspaper accused whites of trying to bribe rural voters with money, food and transport to swing the poll for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The newspaper ran an editorial attacking the whites who, along with Britain, are a persistent target of Mr Mugabe's rhetoric. It called the alleged handouts "despicable and patronising".

A drought and the violent occupation of white-owned farms have threatened severe food shortages in Zimbabwe, once the region's bread basket. Nine white farmers have died and hundreds of black farm workers have been displaced since farm seizures began in February 2000.(Reuters)