Harare - Moves to take over farms linked to allies of Zimbabwe's ousted vice president Joice Mujuru show that President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme was only about vote-buying, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Wednesday.
"The latest madness of re-grabbing of the once grabbed farms is shameful and vindicates the MDC’s long held assertion that the regime was never sincere... about the ill-fated land reform exercise in the first place," said the party, which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai, in a statement.
"The Zanu-PF chaotic land reform was never genuine nor about redressing past colonial imbalances, but [was] a shameful vote buying patronage jamboree."
Youths loyal to longtime leader Mugabe, 91 have allegedly been trying to take over a farm owned by Temba Mliswa in Karoi, northern Zimbabwe. Mliswa is a former Zanu-PF MP who is related to ex-minister Didymus Mutasa, who has also been expelled from the ruling party.
Mutasa's own farm in Rusape, eastern Zimbabwe, is also reportedly under threat from a top party official.
Both Mutasa and Mliswa are allies of Mujuru who was sacked in December 2014. She was accused of plotting to oust - and even kill - Mugabe.
Analysts say it is more likely that Mugabe and his closest allies considered that the army general's widow had become too popular and represented a threat to Mugabe's continued hold on power and his plans for succession.
Four of Mliswa's farm workers had to be taken for hospital treatment at the weekend after they were allegedly attacked by Zanu-PF youths who were camping out at the farm, Mliswa says.
He won a High Court order on Tuesday compelling the youths to move off his property.
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Mliswa told the private Newsday then: “I would never even encourage anybody to invest in agriculture [in Zimbabwe] for as long as there is no rule of law."
The MDC said: "What is most disgusting is the replay of the same chaotic and violent manner reminiscent of 2000, exposing the worst levels of impunity characteristic of the regime."
Launched in 2000, Mugabe's land reform programme targeted Zimbabwe's estimated 4 000 white farmers.
Most of them have now lost their farms and at least 13 were killed in the takeovers.
However land invaders have more recently targeted some black-owned farms, apparently when their owners have fallen out of popularity with Mugabe and his allies.
Mujuru's farm in Beatrice, south of Harare, appears safe for now, though there are claims that government "spies" have been intercepted there.
Mutasa claims he and Mujuru are part of the "original, genuine" Zanu-PF.
There is speculation the pair may unite to form a party and even challenge Mugabe in the 2018 polls. The party has not however been publicly launched and has not officially fielded candidates for 14 key by-elections in June.