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Gary Younge
Mugabe stokes the fires of resentment

As further violence engulfed the nation yesterday, on the 20th anniversary of its independence, a white farmer was killed by supporters of Mr Mugabe, a black foreman was reported to have been killed, another farmer was beaten and abducted and scores of civilians were intimidated by government agents.

Mr Mugabe used the anniversary to announce on state television and radio: "Our present state of mind is that you [white farmers] are now our enemies because you have really behaved as enemies of Zimbabwe.

"We are full of anger. Our entire community is angry and this is why you have the war veterans now, you know, seizing land. For [the farmers] to band together to a man in support of the opposition and to have coerced their labour to support the opposition has exposed them as enemies of the state. They are not just political enemies, they want to reverse our independence."

In his speech and in remarks afterwards, he also made frequent attacks on what he said were entrenched colonial attitudes among the country's 4,500 predominantly white commercial farmers, who had opposed his draft constitution - it was rejected by voters in February.

He also blamed Britain for many of his country's woes. "What we reject is the persistence of vestigial attitudes from the Rhodesian yesteryears," he said. "Attitudes of master race, master colour, master owner and master employer. We can understand the frustrations of the war veterans, just as we appreciate the pressures faced by the commercial farmers. Yesterday and today I have been meeting with the leadership of the farmers and the war veterans so we can reach some understanding," he added.

"We should be able to find a way forward, but one that recognises the urgent need for land reform. It is the last colonial question heavily qualifying our sovereignty. We are determined to resolve it once and for all."

Mr Mugabe also attacked the British government, saying that Labour had broken promises made by the previous Conservative administration: "After 1997 we also had to contend with the reluctance of the new Labour government, which did not want to honour commitments made by previous British governments on the land issue."

Mr Mugabe's address to the country for its independence day was pre-recorded. In past years he has always made the address to a stadium full of people but so bitter is the antipathy in Harare that he retreated to a studio.

Nine people have now died at the hands of supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in the past two weeks. The police have not taken action to stop the crimes or to arrest the perpetrators.

Yesterday, a second white farmer, Martin Olds, 42, was shot dead in Nyamandlovu, 50 miles west of Bulawayo.

The attackers' connection to Mr Mugabe's government was made clear by the fact that police arrived at the property but did not attempt to stop a shootout between Mr Olds and the attackers, nor did they did they bother to follow the invaders' convoy of 15 vehicles when it headed back to Bulawayo. The Zanu-PF supporters did not put up a pretence of seizing land from Mr Olds. They broke into the property, killed him and left.

Mr Olds' murder comes three days after the killing of another farmer, David Stevens in the Macheke area, about 70 miles east of Harare. In that incident five other white farmers who tried to help him were beaten unconscious.

The police have not made any arrests in connection with the incidents, despite the fact that positive identifications were made.

Yesterday Mr Stevens' foreman, who is black, was found dead on his property, according to farmers' radio reports.

Another white farmer, Kevin Tinker, was abducted from his property yesterday in Christon Bank, about 20 miles west of Harare. About 15 men went to Mr Tinker's house on Monday and seized a pistol and some pamphlets for the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr Tinker reported the incident to the local police.

Yesterday the men came back and beat up Mr Tinker and took him away. He was released later in the day.

In the town of Chivu, about 100 miles south of Harare, residents reported that members of the central intelligence organisation (CIO) yesterday searched people's homes for MDC T-shirts and pamphlets and beat up people whom they believed to be opposition supporters. They also ordered people to attend a local rally supporting Zanu-PF, according to MDC officials.

The CIO is the domestic intelligence-gathering network which has agents throughout the country. Its officials have been convicted of abducting and shooting political opponents of the ruling party. It is widely believed they have been involved in the torture and disappearance of others.

CIO agents were also identified as having burned down the staff quarters yesterday at a farm in the Enterprise area 15 miles north of Harare.

"This is Zimbabwe's independence anniversary and we should be celebrating 20 years of black rule. It should be a day of happiness and a day when we are proud," said Trevor Ncube, editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. "Instead it is a day of shame. Blood is flowing all over the country. Fear and trepidation are rampant because Zanu-PF thugs are on the rampage."

Mr Ncube said his reporters had received threats because of the paper's criticism of Mr Mugabe's government. "My reporters are afraid to work overtime because they feel it is dangerous for them to travel home at night.

"These Zanu-PF gangsters are trying to stop people from exercising their constitutional right to make a free political choice. But this brutal political tactic will boomerang and backfire against them. People will pay lip service to Zanu-PF and the opposition will go underground. Zimbabwean people fought for the right to vote and when they go to the polls they will vote for who they want."

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