HARARE July 29 (The Southern African Times) – Zimbabwe marked a milestone today as Government and former white farmers have inked an agreement for the compensation to developments done by the latter before the Land Reform Programme was embarked on in 2000.
The Zimbabwean law acknowledges developments done by former farmers and enjoins the Government of Zimbabwe to compensate farmers who lost land due to the Land Reforms.
Negotiations for an agreement started as far back as 2016 and involved multiple initiatives until an agreement was finally struck.
At his inauguration President Emmerson. Mnangagwa undertook to bring closure to the vexatious National Land Question, itself the causa belli of the National Liberation War.
To fulfil the commitment, the President set up an inter-ministerial TaskForce led by his deputy, Vice President Constantine Guvheya Chiwenga.
The protracted negotiations which included external valuers involved the TaskForce and three unions of former commercial farmers: the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) and two other splinter Organisations which covered farmers in the Southern part of Zimbabwe, and farmers who had left the country.
Thereafter, the former farmers voted on the proposed agreement, with an overwhelming number endorsing it, thus marking one giant step towards closure to this vexatious National Question
The World Bank provided technical guidance during the negotiations, including seconding a valuer to assist with the process. The farmers thanked the President for his firm commitment to ensuring fair resolution to the age-old National Question. Leader of the Technical Taskforce on the Government side was General Chanakira, the Secretary in the Office of Vice President Dr Chiwenga.
Officiating at the event today, President Mnangagwa who was accompanied by his two deputies began his address by announcing the passing on and paying tribute to the late Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Cde Perrance Shiri who passed on this morning.
The President underlined that today’s event brought closure to the National Land Question while stressing the irreversibility of Land Reforms, Zimbabwe’s commitment to property rights and rule of law.
He traced the origin of the Zimbabwe National Question, as well as its centrality to the National War of Liberation as a Principal Grievance.
Zimbabwe’s head of state made it unequivocally clear that today’s agreement does not override the Constitutional stricture which exempts Govt from compensating for acquired land, but only for developments on the land, including biological assets which became the bone of contention. Another sticking point were varying and even conflictual interests among former farmers themselves.
While former farmers from Mashonaland were quite comfortable with the compensation formulae, those from the largely livestock regions felt the initiative disadvantaged them given that their emphasis was not on infrastructure, to the extent their land use and mode of farming did not require such elaborate investments as in cropping land use.
The agreed compensation value is USD3.5bn, down from USD5.7bn which the former farmers would have wanted. Both sides will now jointly mount initiatives for raising the funds, including floating long-term bonds as instruments for raising the required amounts.
The President of CFU described today’s event as nothing short of a long deferred miracle, stressing unity of all Zimbabweans across the colour and all other lines was bound to spur the country forward. The internal resolution of the Land Question would send a clear signal to the rest of the World that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business and does respect property rights.
Reported and written By: George Charamba Deputy Chief Secretary :Presidential Communications, Republic of Zimbabwe