Land grabs of white-owned property have hit Zimbabwe for the second time as the southern African country’s strongman, 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, calls a familiar play as he seeks yet another term in office.

Ruling Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 — the country holds regular elections that critics say Mr. Mugabe routinely rigs — the president is evicting all the white farmers remaining in the impoverished nation and giving their highly productive farms to his supporters.

“All the white farmers remaining on the land must move out to pave way for our youth and ordinary Zimbabweans who have no access to land,” Mr. Mugabe said at a recent rally in Marondera, about 50 miles east of the capital of Harare. “The land is ours, and it must benefit our people. To those who oppose us, we have said to them, ‘Mind your own business.’”

 It’s not the first time Mr. Mugabe has played the land-grabbing card, which harks back to the tangled racial politics that existed before modern Zimbabwe was established with the end of a minority white-run government.

In 2000, Mr. Mugabe promised similar so-called reforms to win office against the newly created opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, whose leaders had long called for kicking out the landowners whose wealth dates from the country’s colonial past.

More than 4,000 white farmers — whose land was among the most prosperous and productive in the country — lost their properties without compensation at the height of the chaos, according to the predominantly white Commercial Farmers Union. A 2002 report by Human Rights Watch concluded that at least seven farmers and dozens of farmworkers were killed during the program.

The Washington Times

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