The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Reporter
FORMER commercial farmers have praised President Mnangagwa and his Government for taking the initiative to compensate their members who lost land and property during the country’s land reform programme.
The initiative, added the farmers, will bring closure to issues around the land reform programme, which had become one of the contentious issues that resulted in some Western countries imposing sanctions on the country. Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) president Mr Ben Gilpin told Sunday News in an interview that the farmers and the Government had entered into a dialogue with the affected parties, which they were comfortable with.
The CFU is involved in the identification and registration of former farm owners to participate in the interim advance payments scheme together with the Compensation Steering Committee representing former farm owners. As stated in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), the Government under the new dispensation, is committed to finalise compensation to all former farm owners who were affected by the land reform programme. The former commercial farmers are being compensated for the improvements they made on the farms.
“The current initiative is a very positive step and we as CFU are working closely with Government to try and see how we can go forward to a final settlement of the whole compensation issue in a way that is acceptable to all parties. So this interim relief payment that they are paying is aimed at alleviating the distress that many of our older members are in because of the loss of value of their money,” said Mr Gilpin.
The Government set aside $53 million in the 2019 National Budget for interim advance payments to the former farm owners.
“It has been 18 years down the road and they still haven’t received compensation, so we are very happy about it and we are working with the Government to try and see how the outstanding issues can be resolved and how we can make sure we come to an acceptable solution as parties involved,” said Mr Gilpin.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the Government has to date paid US$64,4 million to 93 former white commercial farmers for the improvements they made on reallocated farms.
“As outlined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme. Government is committed to finalising compensation for all former farmers affected by the land reform programme. Government is also engaging development partners and other bilateral countries with the view to mobilising the requisite resources. Since 2009 to date, US$64,4 million was paid to 93 former commercial farmers as compensation for immovable improvements. In 2018 alone, US$12 million was paid to 29 farmers. In the 2019 National Budget we set aside US$53 million for the same purpose,” he said.
Zimbabwe embarked on land reform programme in 2000 which was meant to ensure the equitable redistribution of land, most of which was still under the hands of minority white commercial farmers.