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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mugabe Firm on Farm Evictions

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- President Robert Mugabe on Monday ordered white farmers defying eviction orders to pack up and leave but said loyal farmers willing to cooperate with his government would not be left completely landless.

"All genuine and well-meaning white farmers who wish to pursue a farming career as loyal citizens of this country will have land to do so," Mugabe said.

After ignoring government orders throwing them off their land, hundreds of white farmers had anxiously awaited Mugabe's annual Hero's Day address to the nation, marking the guerrilla war that ended white rule more than two decades ago.

The deadlock between white farmers and the government continued for a fourth day Monday. Farmers remaining on their land reported no official action to forcibly evict them since the deadline midnight Thursday.

Mugabe stopped short of calling for immediate action against defiant farmers. But those who "want another war should think again when they still have time to do so," he said.

Mugabe said no white farmer need go without land but his government would not allow whites to remain on large properties or own more than one farm while clinging to ties with Britain, the former colonial power.

"To those who want to own this country for Britain, the game is up and it is time for them to go where they belong. There is no room for rapacious supremacists," he said.

Mugabe said the government would not relent on its program to redistribute land, despite the criticism at home and abroad.

There was no immediate reaction to the speech from the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the country's 4,000 white farmers. Some landowners have reported recent approaches by state officials suggesting they might retain small portions of their land if they relinquished the rest.

Justice for Agriculture, a new group urging farmers to challenge the evictions in court, said at least 1,000 farmers affected by eviction orders owned only one property. The group took no solace from Mugabe's speech.

"We would be much happier if words were met with action on the ground," said Jenni Williams, spokeswoman for the group. "Words don't feed people. Farmers do."

Nearly 3,000 white farmers have been ordered to leave their land as part of the country's often violent program to seize white-owned farms and give them to blacks. The government has targeted 95 percent of white-owned farms for seizure.

Several senior government officials have warned white farmers they face arrest and possible imprisonment of up to two years if they continue to defy eviction orders.