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                                COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
                                     INFORMATION ROOM
                            FARM INVASIONS UPDATE - 20 APRIL 2000
The CFU Information Room will be open over the Easter weekend. Office
hours will be as per normal, and we will be using CFU rotational staff,
so please be patient with your queries.
- - - - -
A memorial service for the late Dave Stevens will be held at the Andy
Millar Hall, Exhibition Park, Harare, on Tuesday 25th April 2000 at 1:00
Farmers and friends please take this as an intimation.
- - - - -
The CFU Emergency Council Meeting is still in progress at the time of
writing. Please liaise with your Regional or Commodity Chairman on the
deliberations of the meeting.
- - - - -
Note from Coghlan, Welsh and Guest:
On reflection of the appropriate regulations concerning the disposal of
land, whether by sale or otherwise, in which it is necessary to obtain a
Certificate of No Present Interest would be applicable legislation to
the issues on duress. In this regard, our previous advice that these
regulations would only apply with regard to sales is therefore not
In the result the situation of each farmer will be greatly assisted by
this all-embracing regulation.  It is still important for farmers
nevertheless to
see their lawyers as previously advised.
- - - - -

Meeting with the President of Zimbabwe
State House Office, 1pm Monday, 17th April, 2000.

In Attendance:
President R G Mugabe
Acting Minister Joyce Mujuru, Lands and Agriculture
Deputy Minister Olivia Muchena, Lands & Agriculture
President CFU, Tim Henwood
President ZTA, Richard Tate
Director CFU, David Hasluck
Father Fidelis Mukonori

President Mugabe welcomed those present and said that Father Fidelis had
organised the meeting, but he had intended to have the meeting
anyway   He wished to discuss the nature of the escalation of conflict
and clashes between war veterans and farmers and, "to look at the way
ahead".  Both parties have ideas and he wished, "to share some
adumbrated thoughts" on the current situation in Zimbabwe.

President of ZTA, Richard Tate, presented a brief on the situation
regarding tobacco.  He stated that last year he had taken a banker
to meet tobacco customers, but this year, on the advice of the Speaker
of the House, had taken Dr. Chris Kuruneri, MP, to help reassure
customers on the
situation in Zimbabwe and the ability to meet overseas tobacco market
requirements for :

* Taste
* Variety
* Continuity of supply

of a larger crop of 220 million kg.  In the company of Dr Kuruneri they
had visited Japan, London (5 manufacturers) and Europe (8
manufacturers) all of whom had shown strong interest and support for
Zimbabwe.  This was because the U.S. production had declined and,
together with an inefficient selling
system, based on 140 small auction floors, manufacturers were now
looking to Zimbabwe and Brazil to supply their requirements.
Government-to-Government contact with China was helping to develop this
important market.  Japan, for the first time, had given 3 year orders
for tobacco. 

The current situation with farm invasions was causing manufactures and
the ZTA concerns over the ability to deliver tobacco to the auction
floors due to open at the beginning of May.  Mr Tate explained that many
tobacco farmers were unable to open their grading sheds.  60 farms
were unable to
operate at all in the Macheke\Virginia area due to farmers moving off
over the week-end for safety reasons.  There is a necessity to plan
not only to have a full offering of tobacco when the floors open, but
for the land preparation and planting of seedbeds.  A return to
was necessary to give farmers the confidence to go about their business.
Meetings had been held with Government and Acting President
Msika on the exchange rate, and the necessity to adjust the "stuck
dollar"  Downwards against the U.S. to encourage farmers to offer their
tobacco at the auction floors early.  The 6 000 small tobacco growers
were as aware of these issues as commercial growers, and needed an
appropriate exchange rate too.

Mr Henwood said farmers' confidence needed to be returned by knowing the
way forward on the land issue.  There was common ground to
move forward from the position agreed at the Donors Conference in
September 1999.  The current security situation on 600 invaded farms was
disrupting current farming
operations, including the preparation for the 2001 tobacco crop, as
described by Mr Tate.  Now was the time to harvest soyabeans, which had
already been delayed due to the wet weather, the maize crop must be
taken in and a wheat and barley crop must be planted. Mr Henwood said
that farmers
needed the assurance of His Excellency that they could get on and farm
now and in the future in a peaceful and secure situation. 

The violence over the week-end in the Virginia farming area, that
resulted in one farmer, Dave Stevens, being shot and five farmers, who
tried to
ensure his safety, being severely beaten by war veterans, who abducted
them from the Police Station at Murewa, illustrated the lawless
situation, and that farmers had every reason to fear for their lives.
Law and order needed to be restored urgently.

President Mugabe expressed his sorrow and regret over the incident of
Dave Stevens death but he did not have the full details and reasons for
the loss of Stevens. 

Mr Henwood gave a detailed brief of the circumstances surrounding
Stevens death from Friday evening 13th April, when war veterans
intimidated and beat workers at Stevens Arizona farm, and the workers
retaliation against the war veterans the following morning, Stevens
subsequent abduction by war veterans on Saturday afternoon, to his being
shot in the presence of Mr Osborne late that night.

Mr Tate stated that Mr Stevens tobacco crop had been lost when the war
veterans burnt the grading shed.  The 60 farmers from
Virginia\Macheke who had left their farms, following Stevens death,
needed assurance that they could return to their farms in safety, and
prepare the crops for auction, and plan for the new season.

President Mugabe gave his assurance that this would be done.

As President Mugabe had expressed disappointment over lack of farmer
support for the constitutional amendment, that compensation for land
would only be paid to farmers if the funds were provided by Britain.  Mr
Henwood explained the CFU position.

Mr Henwood said he believed it was inappropriate for the CFU to have
taken a position relating to the sovereignty between the Zimbabwean
and British governments, and that as Zimbabweans, farmers looked to
their Government for the necessary solution.  In any event, as the
Government had
consistently stated that they would not pay compensation for land per
se, farmers conclusion as to the meaning of the amendment was that
they would not receive compensation for the land and, therefore, it
could not be supported.

President Mugabe explained that the constitutional amendment had been a
pressure tactic to get the British to standby agreements reached in
1996 by his Ministers Nkomo and Kangai that had been concluded with the
Conservative Government of John Major.

Mr  Henwood reiterated he believed that the agreement reached at the
Donor Conference was a basis for dealing with the British on the land
issue and it would be appropriate to revisit and update this position.

A detailed discussion then ensued on the land reform programme and the
way forward including -

* Relations with the British Government
* The need for a Zimbabwean solution
* The visit of Ministers Nkomo, Shamuyarira and Mudenge on the
ice-breaking mission to the United Kingdom
* The need for frequent consultations
* The separation of the land question from poverty alleviation
* The possibility of a further meeting with President Mugabe following
his discussion with the two war veteran factions.

President Mugabe concluded the meeting by saying, "we should never lose
hope.  The farmers must play their part in Zimbabwe, and we are
sorry for those who have been affected by the current situation, as we
know many are good neighbours."

- - - - -
We have had reports of about four new invasions around the country, and
a work stoppage on a farm in in Mashonaland East. 
CFU has been informed of incidents on three properties in the Enterprise
area this afternoon.  At the time of writing full details are unknown.
We will advise you as and when we have more information.
Mrs Hunt, Mr Pleasant
Tel: 308305
- - -
Dr and Mrs Vivien, Avondale
Tel: 744616
- - -
Sharon, Chisipite
496998 / 091347384
- - -
Richard and Jane Calder, Chisipite.
Tel: 499119
- - -
Jim Skinner
Tel: 844522/3 (bus) / 339114 (res) / 091 326696
- - -
The Director of Goldprint has offered accommodation for approximately
300 families.
David Knolls    Tel: 011 212551
Michael Vidler     Tel: 011 203375
Lorraine    Tel: 011 206261
- - -
Special from Cresta Jameson:
Single $1400 (bed and breakfast)
Double $1800 (bed and breakfast)
Children 2-12 years (bed only)
- - -
Jade and Keith Battye
Tel: 745369 / 091 200145
- - -
Lorraine Castedo
Tel: 747142 / 011 206261
- - -
David Mills
Tel: 011 212551
- - -
The Managing Director of Ericom is offering large premises in
Graniteside for parking vehicles, as well as strong rooms for storing
Contact Judy Taylor at Ericom, Harare
- - -
Tessa Grigor
Fully furnished self-catering garden, not suitable for young children as
unprotected swimming pool.
Tel: 882032 / 885765-6 (bus)  /  884974 (res)  / 091349617

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Sent: Friday, April 21, 2000 4:42 AM
Subject: Families plan exodus

From The Times [UK] 20th April 2000

     Families plan exodus after orders to


   FRIGHTENED families arrived at dusk for an emergency
   summit in the town's Sports Club, their pick-up trucks
   packed with all their belongings. Children looked bewildered
   as parents, some crying, filed into the gymnasium to be told to
   flee their farms.

   Officials were talking about Code Orange. Everyone knew
   what it meant.

   Husbands kissed wives and ruffled their children's hair.
   Nobody among the hundred-odd people sitting around the
   club's badminton court disagreed with the order to go but
   they were mute with anger.

   Tim Savory, 50, a local farmers' leader, said: "It's
   heartbreaking but none of us wants to be the next to die." The
   strain was clear as he told the hushed gathering: "Your life,
   your children's lives, are the most important thing, not your
   farms, and this country can't guarantee your life."

   He urged them not to panic, but fathers with children under
   their arms were already drifting off to seek shelter for the
   night with family or anyone else they knew in Kwekwe. By
   last night, the bustling town, on the main road to Bulawayo,
   and at the centre of a farming area the size of Sussex, was
   close to bursting as people who had fled their farms made
   beds in any spare corner they could find. All were too proud
   to mention money but representatives of the Commercial
   Farmers' Union moved around, whispering offers of help.
   Nobody knew how long they could be away from their

   These are practical people, used to crisis, who within an hour
   had thrashed out their evacuation plan.

   Mr Savory had invited the local black police chief to the
   meeting "to show we are not provoking showdown", and
   when one of his neighbours tried to hector the embarrassed
   officer about the impotence of his force against the so-called
   veterans, Mr Savory put his finger to his lips and said: "Zip it,
   all of you. We are not here for a fight but to plan our
   immediate future." The officer then shuffled away, as
   volunteers arranged where people would stay. Satisfied that
   they had shelter, many took up regular pursuits. The
   tranquillity around the club was disarming.

   Determined the evacuation should not be seen as surrender,
   some just played bowls or went to the library, joking that
   they would need something to read during exile.

   On the club's verandah, shaded by coffee trees and
   overlooking a cricket pitch, two young mothers held their
   babies. Karen Potgieter, 22, carressed her daughter Kerry
   and said: "Our lives are being destroyed and we can't
   understand why." She then hugged Shannon Goby, 26, who
   held her son, Joshua.

   The two women debated what they should pack. "We should
   take our valuables because we can sell them," Karen said. "I
   wonder if anyone wants my wedding dress?" However, she
   added: "We don't know what to take because we don't know
   how long we will be away." Her husband, David, was
   packing their daughter's buggy into his truck.

   In the bar, farmers scribbled names of people needing escorts
   from their farms and planned their escape like a military

   Radio sets crackled with confirmations of the latest atrocity.
   The word rape ricocheted around. Mr Savorysaid he knew
   the two girls who had been attacked. "Now you see why we
   are moving the women and kids. This is not some
   propaganda stunt," he said. "These girls were related to one
   of the farmers' leaders in Harare. We know there is a hitlist
   and some of us in this room are on it, including me."

   Please tell your workers you are not deserting them
                and are coming back

   As he tried to arrange his own family's departure from their
   farm 18 miles away, he was pestered for advice and
   reassurance. Shouting to be heard, he pleaded to the crowd:
   "Please tell your workers you are not deserting them and are
   coming back."

   Annette Meyer, who runs a 30,000-acre cattle farm, said:
   "Work has to be done. I feel distraught leaving my workers.
   They are my family. I never thought the day could come when
   I would leave my farm. Now we all have to think about
   leaving Zimbabwe."

   Talk at the bar had now turned to who was entitled to a
   British passport. People compared family trees, arguing
   whether a grandmother who came from Harrogate was
   enough for the British to give them a passport and escape
   from the growing anarchy.

   Karen Pritchard, 40, had a British passport, but her husband
   and two sons, Justin, 14, and 11-year-old Dirk, did not.
   "Can they come with me?" she implored. No one was sure
   and the telephone line to the High Commission in Harare was
   permanently engaged.

   There would be no pressure on those who decided to stay
   but Mr Savory urged them to tell the club where they would
   be in case they needed saving.

   Exhausted, he said: "This is a place where we usually have
   parish meetings. I never thought we would see a council of
   war." He then took a mobile-telephone call from the union's
   leader, who had met President Mugabe. He did not need to
   relay the grim tidings. His expression said it all.

   As friends and neighbours disappeared into the night to find
   temporary shelter his parting words were ominous. "I'm
   pessimistic. Life for us all may never be the same again".

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Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK- BBC

Violence flares in Zimbabwe

Black farm workers were beaten, their houses torched

Fresh violence has erupted on white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, despite promises from squatters' leaders of a temporary halt to hostilities.

Black farm workers were beaten and their houses torched on Thursday in the Arcturus area east of the capital, Harare, by a group of more than 150 government supporters.

The assailants - armed with sticks, whips and rocks - rampaged through the farm settlement, kicking down doors, smashing windows and burning down about 30 houses as dismayed workers looked on.

The white farm owner had already abandoned his property after receiving threats, neighbours said. Many other white farming families have done likewise, fearing for their lives.

The leader of the attackers said the farm was a headquarters for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"Our people have been suffering because of these people," he said.

The news of the latest violence comes as President Robert Mugabe prepares to host a regional summit on Friday which will discuss the growing threat of instability in Zimbabwe.

Peace pledge

He and his opposite numbers from South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique will also hold a separate meeting to discuss the continuing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Friday's planned summit follows talks between Mr Mugabe and leaders of the white farmers and the war veterans who have been occupying their property.

On Wednesday, the organiser of the farm invasions, war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, said there would be no further attacks pending negotiations towards resolving the crisis over land ownership.

On Thursday he repeated his call for a "cessation of hostilities" in a meeting with farmers in the Marondera area - where a white farmer and a foreman were killed at the weekend.

"Your security on the farms is given and it is given not only by me, but by the president. All other things should stop. There have been aggressions from the war veterans and aggressions from the farmers. There should be a cessation of hostilities," he said.


Over the past two months, government supporters have illegally occupied more than 1,000 white-owned farms.

Two white farmers, two black members of the opposition MDC and a black policeman have been killed, and two rapes have been reported.

A wake was held in Harare on Thursday for the two MDC workers who died in a petrol-bomb attack on Saturday

On Wednesday, Mr Mugabe said the veterans - who have led the occupations - would not withdraw until the farmers made clear what land they intended to hand over.

And in an interview with the BBC, he said he did not want international help, such as from the United Nations, to ease the land crisis.

Representatives of the war veterans and the white farmers union will meet on 28 April, according to Mr Hunzvi.

A representative of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has said that in the interest of "national unity" he believed a solution would be reached.


There were also unconfirmed reports overnight of violence against white farmers and black farmworkers in the Marondera district further east.

According to Reuters news agency, farmers in the area said on Thursday that they had found the body of a black foreman missing since farmer David Stevens was killed on Saturday.

Reuters said no details were available on the identity of the foreman or the circumstances of his death.

"There were a lot of attacks of farm workers in their compounds last night," a farmer from the Marondera area about 100km (62 miles) east of Harare told Reuters.

Some white farmers are leaving their farms altogether, while others have sent their families to stay in major cities.

Farmers say busloads of war veterans are moving into the eastern highlands and the ranch lands northwest of the capital, Harare. They fear a new wave of farm seizures.

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Econet News On Demand


Government deploys army to direct farm invasions

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWE National Army (ZNA) officers have been deployed to direct farm invasions by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans, the Zimbabwe Independent learnt this week. The ex-combatants, who have occupied about 700 farms and are terrorising farmers and their workers, now have "commanders" from the ZNA appointed by government to coordinate supplies for the ex-combatants who have killed two farmers so far. Many more have been assaulted.

Sources told the Independent that the military officers were responsible for co-ordinating logistics to ensure that there was reliable food and other essential supplies. This, sources said, explained the use of AK-47 assault rifles and other automatic weapons by those invading farms and police inertia in reacting to reported instances of violence and murder on the farms. Nobody has been arrested for the murder of two farmers in Macheke and Nyamandlovu.

Sources said some of the army officers were using government trucks to transport food to the invading war veterans and Zanu PF supporters.

"The plain-clothed army officers stationed at the occupied farms disguise themselves as war veterans and they have played a very influential role in the upkeep of the invaders," a source said. The Independent, which first disclosed the role of intelligence officers in directing war veterans to specific farms, has further evidence that the war veterans are being used by Zanu PF leaders to get even with their political opponents.

The ex-combatants-turned-militias this week invaded Zimbabwe Ambassador to the United Nations Tichaona Jokonya's Elivington Farm in Beatrice. They were also threatening to occupy suspended Harare city council Director of Engineering, Christopher Zvobgo's Alicedale Farm in the same area. Last week the ex-combatants temporarily occupied the farm and set up shacks on it.

Sources told the Independent in Beatrice that ex-combatants were sent by their political masters to occupy Alicedale West farm because they thought it belonged to Minister Without Portfolio Eddison Zvobgo who is brother to Christopher. The war veterans were saying their "chefs" told them Minister Zvobgo was not cooperating with the Zanu PF leadership on farm invasions.
Information at hand shows that the war veterans this week drove a government truck to Christopher Zvobgo's house on the farm and demanded documentary proof that he owned the farm. Zvobgo was said to have complied and gave them documents showing that he was the legal owner of the farm.
However, a spokesman for the ex-combatants - who is a ZNA military officer - boasted the war veterans enjoyed the support of President Robert Mugabe and would occupy the farm that belonged to Christopher. The ZNA officer insisted the farm belonged to Minister Zvobgo. "Zvobgo (Eddison) came here last week to talk to us about the issue but we know the farm belongs to him," the ZNA officer told the Independent in an interview at the farm this week.

Sources also told the Independent that the fiery war veterans were dispatched by Jokonya's detractors to invade his farm which lies next to Christopher Zvobgo's about 50 kilometres south of Harare along the Masvingo road.
When the Independent visited the farms this week, the ex-combatants were gathered at Rosarum Business Centre, adjacent to the farms, celebrating the country's 20th Independence anniversary. They were eating and drinking at the shops. They had spent the previous night quaffing beer and roasting meat which was supplied by government, sources said.

The war veterans spokesman said they would stay put on Jokonya's property and take over Zvobgo's farm because these farms were being underutilised. The war veterans interviewed by the Independent firmly refused to identify themselves claiming the media was misrepresenting their "demonstrations" as invasions.
"We are finished with white farms, we have invaded all of them and we are now moving into those owned by blacks," the spokesman said.

"Jokonya and Zvobgo's farms are underutilised and that's why we are moving in there," he said.

While part of Elivington farm appeared derelict, the Independent could not find any portion of the Alicedale farm lying idle. Sources at Zvobgo's farm said the property was fully utilised because it had 100 hectares of maize crop, 10 hectares of paprika, seven hectares of sugar beans, and six hectares of market gardening. In addition, there were 200 cattle, 150 pigs, 150 goats, and 100 sheep.
A source at Alicedale said: "It has nothing to do with how the farm is utilised but it's a personal vendatta against the farm owner, Chris Zvobgo".
However, Minister Zvobgo said the farm belonged to his brother and he had spoken to the war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi about the issue.

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HARARE, April 20 (AFP) - White farmers forced out of Zimbabwe by political violence and land seizures would be warmly welcomed in the neighbouring states of Mozambique and Zambia, officials in the two countries said Thursday.

Zambia's Deputy Minister of Lands Ackim Nkole told AFP his government would be pleased to receive white farmers as settlers if they had to relocate.

"It is a very good move. But proper channels have to be followed," Nkole said, adding that the farmers would have to meet the requirements of the Zambia Investment Centre.

Zambia National Farmers' Union president Ajay Vashee told AFP Wednesday that he had received inquiries from white Zimbabweans in the wake of the government-backed invasion of hundreds of farms by thousands of squatters.

"We are telling them that the Zambian government respects investors and security of land tenure," Vashee said.

He said his union was encouraging Zimbabweans who wished to relocate to take advantage of Zambia's liberalised market system.

The Zambian government recently said it had no plans to seize land from the country's estimated 900 white commercial farmers.

In Mozambique, meanwhile, the independent Metical newspaper reported that negotiations for the settlement of about 150 white Zimbabwean farmers in the eastern Manica province were close to conclusion.

The paper quoted provincial Governor Felicio Zacarias as saying they would be granted land in the districts of Barue, which was sparsely populated and had little potential for land conflicts. He said up to 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) could be available for commercial farming in the province.

Zacarias said the first group of 40 Zimbabwean farmers and their families could begin settling there by the beginning of the next agricultural season in September.

The paper said negotiations over the settlement scheme began last year, in the wake of a similar agreement with white South African farmers, about 20 of whom have settled in the northern Niassa province.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe, where some 4,000 white farmers dominate the large-scale commercial sector, is the traditional backbone of an economy more developed than those of Zambia and Mozambique.

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WASHINGTON, April 20 (AFP) - US President Bill Clinton has conferred with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the deadly violence in Zimbabwe and is satisfied with his leadership on the matter, the White House said Thursday.

"The president had a discussion yesterday with Prime Minister Blair, who is obviously taking a leadership role in condemning what's going on in Zimbabwe," spokesman Joe Lockhart said of Wednesday's call between the two leaders.

Since mid-February more than 1,000 farms have been occupied by war veterans as part of a campaign for land reform and two white farmers have been killed.

Police have said they cannot halt the attacks due to lack of personnel and President Robert Mugabe has raised the alarm by condemning the white farmers as "enemies."

Asked whether Clinton was satisfied with Blair's involvement in the conflict, Lockhart said only "Yes."

The spokesman noted that the United States has already taken action itself, suspending aid to Zimbabwe's land reform plan, and added "we'll be making our case," but he did not elaborate.

The presidents of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia are holding a summit Friday and will discuss the farm occupations, but Lockhart said only that US officials "have had a number of conversations with a number of governments" on the matter.

He refused to give any details on those discussions and State Department spokesman James Rubin equally was keeping mum on US contacts with Zimbabwe or its neighbors.

"I'm not going to comment on what they're saying behind the scenes other than to say that what they're saying on the record is what's of particular concern to us," he said.

"This is a situation where the public climate is being incited by irresponsible statements by the leadership there, where the climate of violence is being made worse by these public statements," he said.

"We certainly hope that other leaders would share our concern about the climate that has been created and the need to uphold the rule of the law," Rubin said of the summit.

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Rape terror sparks white flight


AN exodus began last night of hundreds of women and children fleeing farms from almost half of Zimbabwe after a brutal cycle of rapes and attacks brought the spectre of Balkans-style ethnic cleansing to southern Africa.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) issued the order to 6,000 outlying families spread over farms in Matebeleland and Manicaland in the east and the Midlands province to leave as fast as they could. For some, however, the evacuation order - known as Code Orange - came too late.

The tide of brutal lawlessness unleashed by President Mugabe and his mobs of war veterans spread when two young white women were gang-raped on a farm just outside Harare on the country's bloody independence day.

The choice of victims, nieces of a senior figure in the CFU, was seen as proof that its leaders are being targeted for attacks. Tonia Jowett, 25, and her sister, Laura Wiggins, 18, were each raped in succession by two assailants among about five men who stormed their home that night. They agreed for their names to be published to draw attention to the ordeal they suffered.

Mrs Jowett's husband, Brendan, 28, was knocked senseless when a brick was smashed into his face repeatedly. Mrs Jowett had furniture oil poured over her after her ordeal in a failed attempt to burn them to death in their cottage on Chedgelow farm, about six miles south of Harare.

Police denied that the attack was "political" - that it was another brutal raid by veterans. But the evidence suggested otherwise.

Mr Jowett said in an interview with The Times that the attackers had repeatedly asked Miss Wiggins who she was going to vote for and whether she supported the Movement for Democratic Change.

Last night Mr Mugabe, the commerical farmers' representatives and the veterans association, whose members are illegally seizing white land, met in Harare but there was little hope of an end to the crisis.

In spite of growing uproar around the world at the rising violence - from the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and various African states - Mr Mugabe has shown no signs of backing away. Tony Blair yesterday condemned what was happening as "barbaric and disgraceful" but ruled out early action to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister gave warning in the Commons against overreacting to the "utterly unacceptable" situation.

The world's condemnation provided little comfort for the white Zimbabweans who spent their first night as refugees in their own country yesterday.

Derrick Arlett-Johnson, leader of the Midlands CFU, told The Times last night: "We can't risk people's lives any longer so regrettably we decided women and children should move into their nearest town as quickly as they can."

There were unconfirmed reports last night of another farmer shot while defending his property.

Many families grabbed what they could last night and left their farms before darkness as mobs of so-called veterans intensified their intimidation of white farmers and their black workforce across an everwider swath of Zimbabwe.

Keith Kennedy, 38, a farmer and professional hunter from Kwekwe, told how his chief tracker was hanged by a mob on Sunday night. "The police tried to say it was suicide. The man had his feet bound with bark, he was badly beaten. He has ten children and has worked with me for 15 years."

A woman farm owner, who asked not to be named, described how two days ago her foreman was taken by a lynch mob and hanged from a tree. "He had helped to save me when a gang tried to invade my farm about six weeks ago," she said.

Another unnamed farmer and his wife had petrol poured over them. Their lives were spared only when the mob discovered that none of them had any matches and their workforce was able to free them.

Farmers are being advised to take weapons away from their workers in case their homes are ransacked by the veterans, who are already squatting on many farms.

Father relives ordeal of rape attack


"WE are alive," was the only thought Brendan Jowett could manage beyond his immediate shock after being brutally beaten before Tonia, his wife, and Laura Wiggins, her sister, were raped in their home just outside Harare.

Mrs Jowett, who works for Lufthansa Cargo in Harare, walked on to the verandah of the cottage just after 9pm on Tuesday night when a man rushed at her from the dark and seized her by the throat.

Another four rushed past and fell on Mr Jowett inside. "Two of them held me while another hit me repeatedly in the face with a brick until I went down," he said. They bound his hands and feet with neckties.

The men demanded money, the keys for the safe and the keys for Mr Jowett's pick-up truck. They took his wife into the bedroom, tied her feet and hands and gagged her. In the next door room they found Miss Wiggins, hiding in a cupboard.

She was also bound, but not gagged and left in the nextdoor room. He was dragged into the main bedroom where his wife was on the bed.

"They cut her shorts. The first one raped her. Then the second one."

They moved into the next door room where Miss Wiggins lay. "They kept on questioning her, who she was going to vote for. She said she didn't know any party. Then they raped her as well. I could hear."

One of them found a two-litre bottle of furniture oil, and began splashing it all over the house, and across Mrs Jowett. "They tried to ignite it, first with matches, and then with a log from the fire. They failed. It is not inflammable. They thought it was petrol."

They gave up and loaded the back of the pickup truck with stolen goods. "Then it was quiet," Mr Jowett said. Mrs Jowett loosed her bonds and released the other two. They crawled under the security fence of the farm and walked barefoot to police.

The English-trained silversmith who ran a workshop on the farm suffered severe facial bruising and lacerations, a broken nose, concussion and cuts from where they tried to slash his arms.

When the three finally reached a private hospital, there were no supplies available for the two women of the anti-HIV cocktail that is standard formula for rape victims.

It was found and administered at lunchtime yesterday, about 15 hours after the attack. However, their gynaecologist was adamant that the delay was "not critical" in preventing the onset of HIV-Aids.

None of the police stations in the capital had stocks of the "rape kit" issued by police for internal forensic examinations of traces of the assailants' semen.

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