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Mugabe ally implicated in Zimbabwe farm seizures

  • Story Highlights
  • Zimbabwe Senate president -- a Robert Mugabe ally -- accused of farm seizure
  • Production has fallen on many farms under new owners
  • Government commission investigating farm seizures
  • Daughter of Senate president says, "We got this farm legally"
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CHEGUTU, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Farmers are implicating a close ally of President Robert Mugabe's in the latest round of farm seizures in Zimbabwe in which Mugabe loyalists take over white-owned farms.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe have a power-sharing agreement.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe have a power-sharing agreement.

The accusations against Senate President Edna Madzongwe came as Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Friday toured farms that Mugabe followers had taken over. On many of those farms, production has fallen under the new owners.

Mutambara is heading a government commission investigating the farm seizures.

"Black people who acquired farms must produce," he said.

Mutambara said the government is taking the matter seriously.

"There will be no holy cows; the ax will fall where it may," he added. "We will not tolerate any government official who is promoting lawlessness in our country."

Reports of violence on white-owned farms have increased since a power-sharing government in February between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

One death was reported Sunday on the Stockdale Farm in Chegutu, 75 miles (about 120 kilometers) southwest of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

Peter Etheridge, who previously owned that farm, said Madzongwe had illegally claimed his property.

But the daughter of the Senate president denied the allegation.

"We got this farm legally. In fact, they [Etheridge] opened the gates for us, and we moved in," said Farai Madzongwe, adding that her mother is "a law-abiding citizen."

She said she wouldn't comment on the violence and the reported death, saying, "That is for police and courts."

Local media reported the Senate president has four farms.

Etheridge denied he had handed over Stockdale Farm, saying that Edna Madzongwe pushed him out.

"They forced us out, and production on farms has stopped since last month," he said. "This madness has to stop since the country needs food and foreign currency."

The Stockdale Farm was among those the government commission visited Friday. When journalists approached the farm before government officials arrived, a police officer on the property cocked his gun to scare them off. The journalists refused to leave, and the police officer called Farai Madzongwe to report them as intruders.

Etheridge criticized the police presence at his former farm.

"They are giving protection to her but not us who want to feed the nation," he said.

At other farms, militia armed with guns tried unsuccessfully to prevent the government delegation from entering.

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