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SA envoy slates Mugabe land grabs

Oct 14 2011 16:18 Sapa-DPA

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Harare - South Africa's ambassador to Harare on Friday launched an unprecedented attack on President Robert Mugabe's seizures of white-owned land and threats to take over South African companies.

The condemnation by Ambassador Vusi Mavimbela, published in Zimbabwe's main daily newspapers, could only have been sanctioned by South African president Jacob Zuma, diplomats said.

It marked a major turning point in the support the 87-year-old leader has enjoyed for three decades from African leaders for his violent, anti-white policies, they said.

"Some of these things have gone beyond the level of the embassy," Mavimbela told the newspaper, and the situation needed "state-to-state dialogue."

Officials at the embassy confirmed his remarks had been correctly reported.

Nearly all the 600 white South Africans farming in Zimbabwe have been driven off their land by supporters of Mugabe's ZANU(PF) party over the past decade.

Hundreds of South African businesses have been threatened with seizure of their assets if they fail to stick to government regulations issued early last year, forcing white- or foreign-owned companies to give up 51% of their shareholdings to black Zimbabweans.

Mavimbela said the actions contradicted a bilateral investment protection agreement signed between Zimbabwe and South Africa two years ago.
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