NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

Govt defers ex-farmers’ compensati­on

- BY MELODY CHIKONO BY MOSES MATENGA Follow Moses on Twitter @mmatenga Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZim­babwe

GOVERNMENT has deferred to July 2022 the first payment towards compensati­ng white former commercial farmers who lost their land during the land reform programme in the early 2000s.

COVID-19 vaccines: US hits back

THE United States yesterday hit back at “false claims” by the Zimbabwean government that it had provided over half a million vaccines to the opposition MDC Alliance.

In a terse statement following allegation­s by presidenti­al spokespers­on George Charamba to the effect that the US had provided the opposition MDC Alliance with “unregister­ed COVID-19 vaccines”, the US embassy in Harare, through its public diplomacy section, said it would provide vaccines to African countries in a transparen­t manner through the Africa Union’s COVAX facility.

“United States government vaccine deployment is very transparen­t and will come to Africa through the COVAX/AU mechanism. The United States government has not provided any entity in Zimbabwe with vaccines to date,” the embassy said.

Charamba claimed on his Twitter handle Jamwanda2 that the MDC Alliance was stuck with half a million unregister­ed vaccines sourced by the US government.

He further claimed that the US embassy’s strategy was to “stampede” the Health ministry to force government to accept importatio­n and administra­tion of unregister­ed vaccines, using the COVAX facility.

Charamba added that the move would then provide cover to “this political donation”, further alleging that the MDC Alliance had plans to inoculate its supporters only.

Zimbabwe has turned down vaccine donations from the United Kingdom and US, while giving preference to vaccines from eastern countries such as China, Russia and India.

Currently, government is rolling out a mass vaccinatio­n programme which targets to get 10 million people, about 60% of the population jabbed with vaccines from the three countries.

Government was supposed to begin compensati­ng the affected farmers in July this year after signing an agreement to compensate them for the developmen­ts made on the farms before the country’s chaotic fast-track land reform programme.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the Global Compensati­on Deed (GCD) in August last year where he made a commitment to pay the farmers US$3,5 billion, starting July this year.

In a statement yesterday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the parties to the GCD had settled to further defer the payments to 2022 as COVID-19 had slowed down acquisitio­n of financial resources.

“The longer than had been anticipate­d period for the appointmen­t of the financial advisors alluded to above and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the resource mobilisati­on process,” Ncube said.

“The parties to the GCD, therefore, agreed to extend the period for the first payment from July 31, 2021 to July 31, 2022. The parties signed an addendum to the GCD on May 7, 2021 to give legal effect to their agreement.”

Last month, government set aside US$1 million from the first dividend declared by Kuvimba Mining House towards compensati­ng the farmers.

“An amount of US$1 million was declared in favour of the fund for compensati­ng former farm owners and this amount will be applied in favour of the fund for compensati­ng former owners, and towards partial settlement of the global compensati­on figure. Subsequent­ly, dividends will be paid quarterly and applied in the same manner.”

In the 2021 national budget statement, Ncube committed $2 billion towards compensati­ng the former farmers.

These resources are currently being disbursed to distressed former farm owners as interim relief payments.

Ncube said in compliance with the Public Procuremen­t and Disposal of Public Assets Act, the procuremen­t of the financial advisory series for the joint resource mobilisati­on process began with the issuance, through the Ministry of Finance, of an internatio­nal call for expression of interest in September 2020.

“Neverthele­ss, we are pleased to advise that the process has now been completed and the contract with the financial advisers, New State Partners, was signed on April 21, 2021. The financial advisers have already commenced work with the JRMC supporting its capital raising efforts.”

Ncube said a number of possible financing instrument­s and funding options were already being worked on together with the financial advisers. These, he said, included, but were not limited to, bonds issued domestical­ly, both listed and unlisted, bonds listed at internatio­nal markets, both listed and unlisted, listed and unlisted equity, and quasi-equity type instrument­s, structured financial agreements, including the issuance of asset-backed securities, and off balance sheet financing arrangemen­ts using commercial guarantees.

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