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Fresh farm seizures soiling Zimbabwe's image?

31 Jul 2020 at 07:57hrs | Views
THE ongoing seizures of mainly white-owned productive farms severely dent Zimbabwe's international image and cast aspersions on the country's reputation as an investment destination, Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) chairperson Ben Gilpin has said.

Gilpin's remarks come amid accelerated efforts by the government to seize portions of highly productive farms around the country, parcelling them out to Zanu-PF politicians, senior bureaucrats and politically connected individuals.

Recently, the government courted widespread condemnation after it gazetted for compulsory acquisition several farms belonging to white farmers, including Hunyani Farm outside Norton (38 kilometres south of Harare) owned by Peter Drummond and Stappleford Farm 40km North of Harare owned by Robert Davenport. government is also targeting David alexander Tippett's subdivision 1 of Magar Farm in Marondera, measuring 337 hectares and Dave Palmer's Journey's End Farm in Macheke, among several others around Marondera and Macheke in Mashonaland East.

It has also identified farms owned by former government ministers Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao in moves seen as aimed at settling scores against political opponents.

The three fell out of favour with Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies in the fierce contestation for power which characterised the run-up to the November 2017 military coup which catapulted the incumbent to power.

The government, on its part, argues that it is carrying out a fair and legal process of rightsizing "oversized" farms.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Gilpin described the move as regrettable.

"The major concern is policy inconsistency and the inevitable perpetual insecurity that faces farmers as a result. The targeting of productive businesses that have continued to invest over the years is problematic," Gilpin said.

He added that the government, to save the country's image, will have to fairly compensate for developments made on the seized farms, but doubted its capacity to do so. The government signed a us$3,5 billion compensation deal on Wednesday with white farmers evicted from their land more than two decades ago.

However it is not clear how the us$3,5 billion will be funded at a time the country is battling inflation of more than 700%, hyperinflation and dealing with shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food with more than 90% of the population out of formal employment.

The agreement is viewed as a turning point in a dispute that resulted in reduced food production and export earnings. Zimbabwe was also slapped with sanctions from the united states and the European Union.

"Whilst some properties are larger than (agro-ecological) regional maximums, the issue should be about utilisation and not a targeting of assets, which is frequently the motive behind such actions. as it is, there is no capacity for the state to meet compensation for improvements acquired over the years. Regrettably, the targeting of farms that are already downsized is still a challenge," Gilpin said.

"The authorities are aware of such cases and should remember the impact on production and confidence and the perception that Zimbabwe is open for business is damaged. We believe it would be better to focus on unutilised land and insist that beneficiaries use it or lose it. after all, there should be a responsibility and accountability for the use of allocated state land," he added.

Kasukuwere recently claimed the seizure of the most productive part of his vast Concorpia Estate located in Mazowe had scuttled a us$5 million investment deal with a Dubai-based potential investor.

Both Drummond and Davenport have also claimed there were multi-million-dollar investment deals for their farms. The deals, they say, have already been scuttled.

Source - the independent
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