White farmers call for dialogue
The finalisation of compensation to white former commercial farmers is likely to take longer than expected, farmers have said.
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.”