By Felex Share
At least 900 white former commercial farmers who lost land during the country’s agrarian reform have registered for compensation as Government intensifies efforts to pay them for improvements they made on the farms.
Government allocated $53 million in the National Budget to compensate the erstwhile farmers.
The registration is being coordinated by the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and the Compensation Steering Committee (CSC) representing the former farm owners.
CFU director Mr Ben Gilpin yesterday said the registration was progressing smoothly.
“We have about 900 farmers who have responded to the call and registered,” he said.
“We are now verifying with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. Those people will be notified of the final outcome around the 10th of May and working with the ministry, payment modalities will be known.”
He said they were yet to face any challenges in registration.
The compensation, only for improvements made on the land, is being done in accordance with the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPA).
Two decades ago former President Robert Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 black families, arguing it was redressing imbalances from the colonial era.
But land reform still divides public opinion as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government sees the paying of compensation to white farmers as key to mend ties with the West, and set aside $53 million in this year’s budget to that end.
The government, which maintains it will only pay compensation for infrastructure and improvements on farms and not for the land, is talking to international financial institutions on options to raise the full amount to pay farmers.
Colonialists seized some of the best agricultural land and much of it remained in the hands of white farmers after independence in 1980, while many blacks were landless. Herald/Reuters