White farm­ers call for di­a­logue

The fi­nal­i­sa­tion of com­pen­sa­tion to white for­mer com­mer­cial farm­ers is likely to take longer than ex­pected, farm­ers have said.

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - MOTIVATION - Martin Kadzere

WHILE Gov­ern­ment had taken the de­ci­sion to fi­nalise the mat­ter by end of this month, Mr Ben Gilpin, di­rec­tor at Com­mer­cial Farm­ers Union, a group of white farm­ers, told The Sun­day Mail Busi­ness that ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing.

The Gov­ern­ment em­barked on the land re­form pro­gramme in 2000, an ex­er­cise that was meant to ad­dress colo­nial land dis­tri­bu­tion im­bal­ances.

“We have been hold­ings meet­ings with the Gov­ern­ment be­hind the doors and we are hop­ing to re­sume the di­a­logue soon. But with only two weeks left, it will be very un­re­al­is­tic to think the mat­ter will be fi­nalised by end of this month,” said Mr Gilpin.

“We also un­der­stand that the Gov­ern­ment val­u­a­tions teams are now in Man­i­ca­land and this means the process might take a lit­tle longer than we ini­tially an­tic­i­pated.”

In a pre­sen­ta­tion to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in April this year, for­mer Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Plan­ning Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa said the Gov­ern­ment had made a com­mit­ment to fi­nalise com­pen­sa­tion by end of Septem­ber 2018.

He said com­pen­sa­tion would be made in line with the coun­try’s laws, which pro­vides for pay­ments made on in­vest­ments on the farms.

Only farm­ers with land which was pro­tected un­der the Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment and Pro­tec­tion Agree­ment will be fully com­pen­sated.

“Cog­nisant of the re­al­ity that a large num­ber of farm­ers are still to be com­pen­sated (and) given the lim­ited an­nual bud­get ca­pac­ity, Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to en­gage bi­lat­eral part­ners over as­sis­tance to mo­bilise the req­ui­site re­sources in or­der to fi­nalise the com­pen­sa­tion process,” Mr Chi­na­masa said in April.

“The Gov­ern­ment has taken the de­ci­sion to fi­nalise, by Septem­ber 2018, com­pen­sa­tion to all for­mer farm­ers af­fected by the land re­form pro­gramme,” he added.

How­ever, con­tacted for com­ment, Lands, Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Per­rance Shiri said he was not in a po­si­tion to com­ment as he had not yet seen the doc­u­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to CFU, be­tween 250 and 300 white for­mer farm­ers have re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion to date.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa, keen to re­build Zim­babwe’s econ­omy, has said the land re­form pro­gram is ir­re­versible but pledged to com­pen­sate the farm­ers.

Ad­dress­ing an in­ter­face meet­ing with mem­bers of the white com­mu­nity, Asians and those of mixed race in July this year, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa spoke against dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“Un­der the new dis­pen­sa­tion, there is no dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“We should cease to talk about who owns the farm in terms of colour. We should cease talk­ing about that. A farmer — a black farmer, a white farmer — is a Zim­bab­wean farmer. We should look at it that way. We should be­gin to de­velop a cul­ture among our peo­ple to ac­cept that we are one.”

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