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Mugabe eats humble pie, withdraws offer letters targeting BIPPA farms

by Staff reporter
03 Oct 2017 at 15:21hrs | Views
The Government on Friday said it was withdrawing 64 offer letters covering nearly 10 000 hectares of land that had been allocated to local farmers on plantations protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) in Manicaland province.

Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said farmers to be affected by the move had 14 days to lodge their objections with the government.

"Notice is hereby given to the land beneficiaries listed below that the acquiring authority intends to withdraw their offer letters," Mombeshora said in a statement.

"The offer letters were issued on plantation farms covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

The withdrawals are targeted at land that had been parcelled out at three farms – Westward Hoo, Tilbury and Tilbury – which are in Chimanimani and Mutare.

The Zimbabwean Government compulsorily acquired large tracts of land including some covered under BIPPA when it embarked on its land reform programme in the early 2000s.

The agrarian reforms sought to address colonial land ownership imbalances that prejudiced the local black indigenous population.

Over the years, more than 300 000 households were resettled on the acquired land.

Acquisition of land covered under BIPPA, however, caused problems for the government, with some countries whose citizens had properties taken over objecting to the move.

Some of the affected people successfully sued government at the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Some of the countries that were covered under the BIPPAS include Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands and Switzerland.

The Supreme Court had however ruled that government had authority to even repossess land covered under BIPPAs.

But in a bid to mend and protect relations, as well as manage its liabilities, Government in 2012 said it would stop acquiring land covered under BIPPAs.

Five years ago, the government revoked 55 offer letters made to farmers on BIPPA land.

In the meantime, Mombeshora also announced intentions to withdraw offer letters made to 13 other farmers based in Seke and Chipinge districts "for   not taking up their plots in contravention of terms and conditions of their offer letters."

The farmers were given two weeks to respond.

Source - New Ziana