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THE Commercial Farmers' Union director, Mr David Hasluck, yesterday attacked Britain for causing a diplomatic stand-off with Zimbabwe that resulted in farmers failing to get full compensation for land acquired for resettlement.
In a rare attack on the former colonial power, Mr Hasluck said Mr Tony Blair's government had failed to acknowledge the historical background to the land reform programme that required it (Britain) to help pay the compensation.
He was speaking to a delegation from the United States' New York City Council that is on a fact-finding mission in Zimbabwe.
"There was no acceptance of history by the new British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair," said Mr Hasluck.
"The British government has absolutely rejected that there will be compensation for land based on our history."
"Since my President (Cde Mugabe) and Tony Blair fell out diplomatically, things have been worse for us, especially the white farmers."
He said the British government had refused to take the responsibility of financing the land reform programme because it did not acknowledge what happened in the past, especially at the Lancaster House Conference.
There was almost a total breakdown of negotiations at Lancaster House in 1979 over the issue of land reform in Zimbabwe.
The negotiations, which led to the drafting of a compromise constitution for Zimbabwe, only resumed after Britain and the United States sent envoys indicating they would finance the land issue.
The Government recently amended the constitution to include a section obliging Britain to pay compensation to the farmers for the farms, while it would only pay for improvements.
"The most difficult thing for us is the failure of diplomacy," said Mr Hasluck.
"The promises for compensation have been taken away and we are being called the children of the British. This is an insult to us because we are Zimbabweans."
Mr Hasluck got angry at one point when some members of the delegation continued to refer to him as a white farmer.
"I am sorry to get angry and emotional, but please identify with me as an African too," said a visibly angry Mr Hasluck.
"I do not see myself as a white commercial farmer, but as a Zimbabwean. I am a Manyika who comes from Manicaland Province."
The leader of the delegation, Mr Charles Barron, said the delegation was in Zimbabwe to find out facts and not to arouse anger.
"We are also angry because we identify with black Africans," said Barron.
"When you see the degree of this anger on our side you have a right to be angry too. We appreciate your anger, but we are here to find the facts."
Mr Hasluck said the farmers did not want to involve themselves in politics.
He claimed the farmers had made a number of proposals on how the land reform programme could proceed, but had been ignored by the Government.
The farmers, he said, had no power to talk with the British government on the land reform programme because it was the responsibility of the Government.
The delegation later met with the opposition MDC in a closed meeting.
The MDC officials barred The Herald from attending the meeting despite the fact that all the other meetings held by the group so far with different organisations had been open to the Press.
"Who the hell are you and what do you want here?" one of the MDC officials told a Herald reporter.
"You cannot just come without our invitation because we are the ones who arranged this meeting."
The delegation arrived on Sunday and met with President Mugabe, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister, Cde Joseph Made and the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Cde Olivia Muchena.
The delegation would meet several other stakeholders and visit the farming communities before departing for the US next week.
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