[JURIST] A magistrate in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] on Thursday handed down a six-month suspended jail sentence to the first white farmer convicted for refusing to vacate his farm after it was declared state property under Zimbabwe's farm seizure program [JURIST report]. Deon Theron was convicted last Tuesday of unlawfully remaining on his farm, and several other white farmers are currently facing criminal charges [JURIST report] over their refusal to obey state-sponsored eviction orders. AP has more.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has been harshly criticized [Guardian report] for his farm seizure program, which seeks to redistribute white-owned land among the nation's native farmers. In February 2006, the Zimbabwean land minister said that, following controversial constitutional reforms that took effect in 2005, there are no longer any white farmers operating legally in Zimbabwe [JURIST reports]. The government has appropriated some 4,000 farms through the program and many attribute Zimbabwe's inflation rate, which is reportedly exceeding 5,000 percent, to these actions as previously productive farms have become barren under new inexperienced owners.