Panafrican News Agency

Zimbabwe Government to complete land valuations for compensation next month

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA)  -  The Zimbabwean government said here Sunday it planned to complete land valuations by the end of next month to compensate former white commercial farmers for improvements they made to the land up to the point it was repossessed by the state.

In 2000, government seized mostly white-owned farms and replaced them with black farmers, arguing that the move was meant to address colonial imbalances, with RTGS$53 million (US$12 million) budgeted for this year as interim compensation.

“The Ad Hoc Compensation Working Group, comprising government officials and representatives of former farm owners, is currently working towards the computation and establishing the Compensation Quantum figure for farm improvements based on an agreed method of valuation,” a joint statement from the Ministries of Lands, Agriculture & Rural Resettlement and Finance on Sunday (today) read.

“Given the significant progress made to-date, it is anticipated that this comprehensive farm improvements valuation exercise will be completed by the end of May 2019.”

The joint government statement stated that as mentioned in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (October 2018-December 2020), it committed to finalise compensation to all former farm owners who were affected by the Land Reform Programme.

“This is being done in accordance with the country's Constitution and Zimbabwe's obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs),” the joint government statement read.

Its envisioned that the completion of the work of the Ad Hoc Compensation Working Group will enable government and former farm owners, in conjunction with cooperating partners, to progress towards closure of the land issue.

“Reflecting government's commitment to compensate former farm owners for farm improvements and recognising that a large number of farmers are still to be compensated, Government allocated RIGS$53million in the 2019 National Budget for interim advance payments,” the joint government statement read.

“These interim advance payments will be made to former farm owners affected by the land reform program and who are in financial distress.”

When the Zimbabwean government began the land reform process, this led to the country’s alienation from the international community and international financial institutions contributing to the country's current economic downturn.

In fact, at the core of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (Zidera) of 2018, which was initially passed in 2001 by the United States government and imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe for 18 years, is land reform.

Particularly, Zidera highlights compensation to farmers forcibly removed from their land during the 2000 land reform program under the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe government as one of the reforms needed to have the law stricken off.

To that effect, a central demand of the updated Zidera is that the Zimbabwean government enforce the rulings of the SADC tribunal on land reform made between 2007 and 2010 as a precondition for re-engagement with the United States..

“It is the sense of Congress that the Government of Zimbabwe and the Southern African Development Community (referred to in this section as “SADC”) should enforce the SADC tribunal rulings issued between 2007 to 2010, including 18 disputes involving employment, commercial, and human rights cases surrounding dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers and agricultural companies,” states the Zidera Amendment under Section 9.

During the 2007-2010 period, the SADC tribunal made several important rulings in favour of the white farmers who lost their land during the land reform program.

This was after the farmers approached SADC tribunal when they failed to contest the land reform program in Zimbabwean courts.

However, under the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution Section 295, white farmers are only allowed compensation from the State for improvements made to the land by the time it was repossessed.

But, considering how the land has had decades worth of improvements, the estimated cost in paying for the compensation by the several farmer's unions in Zimbabwe is US$30 billion.


-0-   PANA   RA   7Apr2019