March 8, 2002

The "fast track" land resettlement program implemented by the government of Zimbabwe over the last two years has led to serious human rights violations. The program's implementation also raises serious doubts as to the extent to which it has benefited the landless poor. The stated aim of the fast track program is to take land from rich white commercial farmers for redistribution to poor and middle-income landless black Zimbabweans. Under the program, however, ruling party militias, often led by veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war, have carried out serious acts of violence against farm owners, farm workers, and, using occupied farms as bases for attacks, against residents of surrounding areas. The police have done little to halt such violence, and in some cases are directly implicated in the abuses. The process of allocating plots to those who want land has frequently discriminated against those who are believed to support opposition parties, and in some cases those supervising the process have required applicants to demonstrate support for the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). Zimbabwe's several hundred thousand farm workers have been largely excluded from the program, and many have lost their jobs, driven from the farms where they work by violence or laid off because of a collapse in commercial agricultural production.

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