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Mnangagwa sets aside $53 million for white farmers compensation

by Staff reporter
24 Nov 2018 at 07:54hrs | Views
THE Government is working on compensating white former commercial farmers whose land was acquired under the land reform programme since 2000 with a budget of $53 million having been set aside to speed up the process.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube, in his 2019 National Budget Statement on Thursday, said the Government has put in place structures to determine the extent of its obligations in addressing the issue.

"Government is committed to finalising the issue of compensation to white former farm owners who were affected by the land reform programme, in accordance with the country's law and commitments under the various bilateral agreements and the constitution. This work is on-going and will be finalised in the next few months," he said.

"In this regard, various mobilisation strategies and finance mechanisms are being explored in consultation with all stakeholders. Cognisance is being given to the fact that the resources required to compensate and put closure to this important issue, are obviously beyond the capacity of the fiscus," he said.

"In the interim, the 2019 budget proposes to avail $53 million towards payment of compensation to white former farm owners, whose disbursement will be targeted."

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record saying the Government will continue compensating white former commercial farmers who lost land through the land reform programme. He said the Government is raising funds from the fiscus to pay the farmers.

"That is an ongoing exercise. In terms of our law we are obligated to compensate any developments on land which was compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme. Some farmers have already been compensated, but the large number of them has not and we are continuously raising funds on the fiscus for that compensation, although the persons affected are not too happy because the pressure's very strong," he said.

The President said he will not breach that commitment by Government to continue honouring the compensation on the improvements on land as a result of the land reform programme. He however, said the principle of repossessing the land cannot be challenged or reversed.

The Commercial Farmers' Union recently posted on its website, saying the Government has invited over 1 000 white farmers to collect compensation for farms that were repossessed by the State under the land reform programme. There are approximately 200 white commercial farmers still farming countrywide.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since pronounced that white former commercial farmers willing to come back were free to do so, but had to apply for land like anyone else.

In his November 2017 inauguration speech, President Mnangagwa singled out the agriculture sector and charged it with the important responsibility to become the engine for socio-economic recovery and growth for Zimbabwe. He said it is mandatory for black and white farmers to work together in harmony towards formulating winning strategies to attain a breadbasket status for the country.

Government has since directed that all remaining white commercial farmers be issued with 99-year leases, a marked policy shift from the previous arrangement where they could only get five-year leases.

Source - chronicle