17 April 2000
White Zimbabwe farmer killed

THE murder of a white farmer by supporters of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe receives front-page coverage in most of the morning newspapers.

David Stevens, aged 50, was shot after being abducted from his farm in the tobacco-growing region of Macheke on Saturday (15 April).

Five other farmers who went to the aid of Mr Stevens were taken from a police station and badly beaten.

In a separate incident, two opposition party officials were murdered when a petrol bomb was thrown into their car.

As news of the murder of Mr Stevens spread, a convoy of up to 50 white farmers was reported to be fleeing the Macheke area.

This was the worst outbreak of violence since the invasion of more than 600 white-owned farms, by pro-Mugabe squatters demanding land redistribution, began two months ago.

President Mugabe refused to condemn the murders and instead warned white farmers they must accept the consequences if they provoked squatters.

As tensions rise, TheGuardian reports that Zimbabwe is “in danger of descent into anarchy”.

An editorial in the The Daily Telegraph warns that there is every likelihood Mr Mugabe will drive away his most efficient producers.

It says he will divide their farms into units which are too small to be economically viable and give them to men “who have never grown anything in their lives”.