A Zimbabwean white farmer has been sentenced to 12 months in jail after refusing to comply with a directive to move out of his farm at the height of the country's controversial land reform programme, said a report on Wednesday.
According to New Zimbabwe, Phillip Valentine, 40, was dragged before magistrate Poterai Gwezhira to face a charge of contravening the gazetted land act.
Valentine reportedly refused to move out of his Odzi farm that had been seized by the government on October 10, 2000 and given to a black beneficiary Chief Zimunya. The prosecutor told the court that following a number of eviction notices by Mutare's land officer Simon Matendere, the convicted farmer still refused to move out of the farm.
Valentine was sentenced to 12 months in jail or pay a $600 fine.
Colonial land ownership
Reports indicated that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances. At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms. The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land. Mugabe vowed in recent years that whites would never be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe, further adding that the few remaining white farmers "must go".
Mugabe claimed that Zimbabwe was "no country for whites" as far as land was concerned.