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MDC Alliance lobbies govt to reimburse former farm workers in land compensation deal

The main opposition MDC Alliance says government’s compensation policy should also reimburse farm workers who lost their property during the chaotic land reform programme.

Advocate Fadzayi Mahere
Advocate Fadzayi Mahere

Speaking at a press conference in Harare on Thursday, MDC Alliance national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said over four million former farm workers were violently removed from farms during Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme which started in 2000.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa intends to pay US$3.5 billion as compensation to white commercial farmers representative groups. But the opposition party said the move was selective as it left out “an important group”, the farm workers.

“Adequate and fair compensation is necessary to ensure viability and national stability,” she said.

“Section 295 (4) of the Constitution expressly requires that the compensation payable must be assessed and paid in terms of an Act of Parliament,” said Mahere.

“As a social democratic party, we emphasise that the measures in the Land Policy must include labour, the labour that was affected by the Land Reform Programme, the four million former commercial farm workers and a 150 000 seasonal farm workers that have been totally ignored in the correctional phase of the Land Reform Programme.

“We call for urgent attention to be given to their plight and for the concerns to also be taken into account.”

Mahere said although there was a need for the government to publicise names of those who stood to benefit, how the US$3.5 billion was arrived at and where the money was coming from, it was important that Zimbabweans know the process was unconstitutional.

“That effort to reach out to farmers is completely unconstitutional, there cannot be a valuation or methodology outside the province of an Act of Parliament.

“The secret process that is taking place is not only unilateral but it is unconstitutional,” Mahere said.

Recently, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in a joint statement these farmers should apply for their land back.

The government meant that in some instances it would “revoke the offer letters of resettled [Black] farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere.

“Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, the government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available,” the ministers added.