It was the first legal confiscation by Robert Mugabe under his considerable powers to take any land he chooses for redistribution to poor blacks. If Mrs Davies's farm had also been the last to be seized, or was one of just a couple of hundred farms, it probably would not make much difference to greater Zimbabwe. But if Mugabe now does what he says he is going to do, then his country is in for a rough time.
Things looked bad enough when the government said that it intended to take 804 farms, but that at least left most of the commercial land still dedicated to producing vital tobacco exports. But now Mugabe has raised the bleak prospect of expropriating more than 3,000 farms - two-thirds of the white-owned agricultural land - and he says even that may not be enough.
It is not certain that Mugabe intends to follow through on his pledge, but don't count on him backing down. Many Zimbabweans thought the land issue would quietly die after it was used to whip up anti-white sentiment, and support for Mugabe "the liberation war hero", ahead of June's parliamentary elections. But Zanu-PF's humiliating near-defeat has helped keep land top of the agenda.
After the shock of the parliamentary ballot, there is no shortage of voices telling Mugabe that he cannot win the next presidential election in two years' time. Some of the doubters inside his party say that he knows it. But if Mugabe is on the way out, he has little incentive to drop his assault on the farms. And if he hopes to win another election, then it is a powerful issue to keep alive.
Mugabe's constituency, those for whom he believes he governs, and for whom he fought a liberation war, are not the city dwellers who snubbed him so defiantly in June's parliamentary elections. Such support as he has is among the peasants and landless rural poor, whose lives have not improved measurably for all Zimbabwe's past economic successes. Now there are hundreds of thousands of blacks who expect to be given land, much of it good land. Why not one last gesture for the people who matter to him? And at the same time, exact revenge on the whites he so despises? For Mugabe, it is the opportunity to go down in history as the man who not only liberated Zimbabwe from the colonists, but finally righted a great historical wrong and delivered the land back to its proper owners.
None of this may come to pass, but all efforts to prevent it so far have backfired. What began as the prospect of seizing a few hundred farms has increased to several thousand as Mugabe was denounced by Zimbabweans and foreigners as a tyrant out of step with a changing world. There is not much to be achieved by hurling insults at Mugabe. Peter Hain and Robin Cook tried it and did little more than harden the president's determination to snatch the land. In any case, to African ears, the tone of British official criticism still smacks of neo-colonialism.
Mugabe's bitterness encompasses more than the whites camped on Zimbabwean soil. He is not alone among African leaders in being disgruntled at being forced to swallow the new ideology of globalisation and other western medicines that have prevented many governments of poor countries having any real say in the fate of their nations. Few have much to show for it.
Thabo Mbeki's scepticism over the link between HIV and Aids is more than mere contrariness. He is deeply suspicious about western intentions on his continent. To the rest of the world, the 2006 World Cup debacle might have been farce, but in Africa it was understood as a racist conspiracy. Where Mbeki is not at one with Mugabe is over the economic cost of the land seizures. Mugabe famously tells those dignitaries who tramp to his door in the belief they can change his thinking what they want to hear, and then he carries on as usual. This is what happened when Mbeki turned up in Harare with a few heavyweight cabinet ministers in tow.
They have good reason to be worried about what is happening in Zimbabwe. An economic meltdown has many implications for South Africa, not least because of the danger of large numbers of Zimbabweans heading south to search for work, and the damage the crisis does to foreign confidence in the region.
At a press conference, Mbeki spoke of the need to establish the rule of law - which is code for ending the hundreds of illegal farm occupations by the war veterans. Under pressure to respond, Mugabe said he would get veterans off those farms not legally designated for seizure. Even the state-run Herald newspaper hailed it as a breakthrough. The South Africans seemed pleased.
But Mugabe didn't mean it. Next day, he was denouncing his own newspaper for misinterpreting him, and promising to take every piece of white-owned farmland in the country if he felt like it. And he does feel like it. Mugabe has heard all the arguments, economic, legal, moral, against snatching farms but none is as persuasive to him as the case for redistribution.
The moral question, the one for full compensation to the farmers, is the weakest. Theoretically they will get the cost of their homes and farm buildings. In any case, even those Zimbabweans who don't agree with what is going on speak with some bitterness about the manner in which the land was stolen at gunpoint and with considerable brutality little more than a century ago - not long when you see Ian Smith's old friend, the Queen Mother, getting her birthday card. That is no excuse for vilifying white farmers as Idi Amin hounded the Asians, or treating them with cruelty and brutality. Mugabe might want all the whites out of the country, but that is not the wish of most Zimbabweans.
Then there is the legal case, but the west is hardly in a position to lecture Mugabe on the rule of law after decades of riding roughshod over the human rights of Africa by arming governments that commit genocide and propping up authoritarian leaders who plunder their treasuries. The only truly persuasive argument against the redistribution of the farms is the devastating impact the wreckage of the economy will have on the welfare of most Zimbabweans. The commercial farms bring in most of the country's hard currency and are the single largest employer.
Mugabe and his government cannot fail to understand the consequence of redistribution of the country's most productive land to subsistence level farmers. At best, Zimbabwe will be able to feed itself. But the tobacco industry has already said that it will shut down if 3,000 farms are seized. Then there will be little hard currency to pay for fuel and electricity, and so little incentive for industry to stay around.
A good proportion of the working population - farm hands to factory workers - will be out of jobs. If that happens, Zimbabwe will need all the subsistence farmers it can get.
A summit of 11 southern African leaders has handed Robert Mugabe a diplomatic victory by appointing Mr Mbeki and Malawi's president, Bakili Muluzi, to put pressure on Britain after backing unequivocally the Zimbabwean leader's policy of expropriating white-owned land for redistribution to poor blacks.
The regional presidents said in a statement: "We are convinced that to have a land reform programme which is fair and just to all the stakeholders it is imperative for the UK government to honour its obligations under the Lancaster House agreement to provide resources for that purpose.
"We reiterate our acceptance of the urgent need to effect land redistribution in Zimbabwe to address land hunger and poverty affecting millions of black Zimbabweans."
Mr Mugabe argues that Margaret Thatcher's government agreed to fund land reform as part of the Lancaster House settlement which ended minority rule in Zimbabwe 20 years ago.
Mr Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, yesterday urged London to "open a new chapter" in relations with its former colony. "The British have acted irresponsibly. They still have a colonial mind," he said.
South African diplomatic sources said it was likely Mr Mbeki would seek a meeting with Mr Blair on the issue. The South African president has already made clear his belief that Britain should fund the land acquisitions but he has also called on Mr Mugabe to adhere to the rule of law.
Britain has said it will unfreeze a Â£36m donation to help pay for land redistribution but only once the illegal and sometimes violent occupation of white-owned farms by the self-styled "war veterans" is ended. The minister for Africa, Peter Hain, said in June that the government would not write "a blank cheque" to Zimbabwe.
The land seizures have continued with the government bussing hundreds of families on to farms served with confiscation orders in recent days and fresh invasions of other land by the veterans. Mr Mugabe says he plans to move 500,000 families on to more than 3,000 expropriated farms, about two-thirds of all the white-owned commercial land.
Despite the impact of Zimbabwe's deepening economic woes on its neighbours, some of which have seen their currencies dragged down by the crisis, southern African leaders left no doubt where they stand. They welcomed Mr Mugabe's assurance that the land reform programme would be "handled peacefully, and within the provisions of the laws of Zimbabwe", but made no reference to the war veterans' violence or the failure to obey court orders to stop the illegal land seizures.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, hailed re gional support for Mr Mugabe's position as unqualified. "It was full backing for the need for land reform," he said.
The southern African presidents also praised Zimbabwe's parliamentary election in June for being held "in a transparent, peaceful, free and fair environment", without noting the political violence that cost 31 lives and other intimidation highlighted by the European Union and other monitors.
If Zimbabwe had a problem, they said, it was that the foreign press had misrepresented Mr Mugabe's policies. "We are disappointed by the partisan and biased manner in which a sector of the international media has misrepresented the land policy of the government of Zimbabwe which seeks to effect a just and equitable redistribution of land in a situation where 1% of the population owns over 70% of the best arable land," they said.
The summit called on the US Congress to drop the proposed Zimbabwe democracy act which would impose financial sanctions on Mr Mugabe's administration because of the "violence, intimidation and killings orchestrated and supported by the government".
The leaders said: "This punitive piece of legislation is counterproductive and unjust because it will have far-reaching negative implications for the economic development and evolution of democratic institutions in Zimbabwe in particular and the region in general."
But Mr Mugabe received a fresh reminder of the cost of his policies yesterday when South Africa's electricity generator, Eskom, warned that it might cut supplies to Zimbabwe because of 140m rand (Â£14m) in unpaid bills.
Harare is heavily reliant on South Africa for electricity. Eskom's transmission manager in Johannesburg, Peter O'Connor, said supplies to Zimbabwe were now limited to a third of what had been previously provided.
The South African government has been reluctant to call in Zimbabwe's debt to state-run Eskom and is seeking other means of settling the bill, such as taking power stations in payment when Harare privatises its electricity supply.
In recent days Mr Mugabe's government has issued seizure orders for 211 white-owned farms in defiance of the widespread condemnation of western governments and opponents at home, who warn that he risks wrecking Zimbabwe's economy.
Although the farmers have the right to appeal, the land legally became government property the moment the orders were served. In a speech to a summit of the Southern African Development Community in the Namibian capital Windhoek, the body's chairman, President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, defended Mr Mugabe by saying there was a tendency to "put a blanket" over the history of the independence struggles in Africa.
He condemned those who portrayed "former heroes of the freedom struggle" as "anti-democratic and even dictators".
"We cannot in SADC condone these views. We are the democrats and we want democracy to work according to the will of our people in each one of our countries."
Mr Mugabe's government says it plans to seize 804 farms without compensation in the short term, under what it calls the "accelerated land redistribution programme", and more than 3,000 within months.
The policy has been condemned by Washington, where a sanctions bill imposing an embargo on international and bilateral loans is making its way through Congress. SADC officials said southern African leaders planned to issue a condemnation of this.
But as the legal land seizures went ahead yesterday, tobacco farmers warned that they would not be able to meet the deadline at the end of this month for planting next year's crop.
Zimbabwe is the second biggest tobacco exporter in the world and among the top three producers of the high quality Virginia leaf favoured by cigarette manufacturers. Tobacco accounts for about half its foreign earnings.
"Failure to achieve the 180m kg [397m lb] core business crop will jeopardise Zimbabwe's position as a leading supplier of quality flavourful flue-cured tobacco for the international brands of cigarettes," said Kobus Joubert of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association.
Yesterday's summit grappled with the other main cause of instability in the region: the collapsing peace process in the Congo, where Zimbabwe is a leading belligerent. But it made little progress because the Congolese president, Laurent Kabila, failed to turn up.
Mr Kabila's foreign minister, Abdoulaye Yerodia, said his president was "too busy". The mediator in the conflict, the former Botswana president Sir Ketumile Masire, said Mr Kabila's absence showed that he was not serious about ending the war. The main rebel leader in Congo, Emile Ilunga, agreed. The war would not end, he said, until Mr Kabila was defeated.
Nelson Mandela provided the lightest moment of the summit when he lost his way in the middle of a speech.
"You will be patient with an old man," the 82-year-old former South African president said. "I have confused my papers, but I know a president who confuses papers and does not know he has done so."
His audience, including the presidents next to him on the platform, roared with laughter.
â€¢ The police said yesterday that they were investigating a report that war veterans illegally occupying a white-owned farm near Harare had abducted and sexually abused 10 schoolgirls. A farming source said the girls were aged 12-13