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Zimbabwe’s Evicted White Farmers Seek World Bank Backed Bonds

Zimbabwe’s Evicted White Farmers Seek World Bank Backed Bonds

via Zimbabwe’s Evicted White Farmers Seek World Bank Backed Bonds - Businessweek 23 July 2014 by Brian Latham

Commercial farmers in Zimbabwe whose holdings were seized in land invasions backed by President Robert Mugabe’s administration say the World Bank is considering underwriting the settlement of their claims with government bonds.

The World Bank is advising the government on improving land reform and compensation bonds have been used in other countries, the office of its country manager in Zimbabwe, Camille Nuamah, said in a July 18 response to questions. Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made wasn’t available to discuss compensation, an aide who declined to be identified said when his office was called.

About 3,000 mainly white farmers were dispossessed of their properties in a land reform program that began ahead of elections in 2000 and led to the collapse of exports ranging from tobacco to corn, causing famines and an almost decade-long recession. At least 18 farmers and farm workers were killed in the invasions in 2000 and 2001, while about 300,000 farm workers have lost their jobs, according to the Harare-based Commercial Farmers Union.

“The bonds should be issued by the government of Zimbabwe but underwritten by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency under the World Bank,” Ben Gilpin, an executive at the CFU, said in an interview on June 9.

The government has yet to respond to the proposal, said Gilpin, who heads the union’s Land Evaluation Committee, which represents almost all of the dispossessed farmers. The CFU wants the bonds to be based on the value of individual farms.

Repair Relations

“The quality of land administration is only one of a wide range of policy issues that are considered” before the World Bank decides on funding for the government, the lender said in the e-mail. “Compensation bonds is only one of a variety of methods that have been used in other countries which have experienced large scale land reforms.”

Zimbabwe is trying to repair relations with global lenders and the International Monetary Fund will re-open its country office in the capital, Harare, this year after closing it in 2004. The southern African nation has total debts of about $10 billion and is in arrears to the World Bank for about $828 million, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament July 3.

The country is trying to stoke growth in a stalling economy threatened by deflation and liquidity constraints that have left government struggling to pay civil servants.

Mugabe, who has led the country since independence in 1980, justified the seizures by saying the U.K, its former colonial power, failed to honor a 1979 agreement that would have compelled Britain to fund land reform.

Legal Failure

Black Zimbabweans were disenfranchised of land after white settlers began claiming farms in the country, formerly known as Rhodesia, in 1890. The Land Tenure Act of 1969 gave whites, who made up less than two percent of the population, 39.1 percent of the country’s area while blacks were confined to 43.8 percent of mostly crowded land, maps in the CFU headquarters show. Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands says whites owned 45 percent of the country’s land in 1980.

Attempts by farmers to challenge evictions through Zimbabwe’s courts failed after the government issued notices to acquire individual farms beginning in 2000.

A subsequent attempt to challenge Zimbabwe through the regional Southern African Development Community Tribunal, while partially successful, was ignored by the government.

The evaluation committee has used satellite imagery to calculate the value of about 85 percent of all farms seized by the government, Gilpin said.

‘Some Dignity’

“The process is designed to make it affordable for government to pay compensation and bring closure to the issue for once and for all,” said Gilpin. “It’d be a way for government to facilitate re-engagement with the world and bring some dignity to the now elderly farmers who lost everything.”

The proposal has the support of the World Bank and some donor nations, he said.

About 20 former farmers have received “some” compensation from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Gilpin said.

“It’s a protracted process taking up to five years, and farmers must prove that they paid retrenchment packages to their labor and then hand over their title deeds before anything can progress,” he said. He wouldn’t comment on amounts.

When the seizures began Zimbabwe was the world’s second-biggest tobacco exporter, Africa’s second-largest corn exporter and had thriving horticulture, paprika and rose export industries.

While tobacco production is recovering the country now regularly imports corn and its other agricultural industries have mostly been decimated with some farmers moving elsewhere in Africa or to Australia and New Zealand.

‘Land titles good for investment, economy’

‘Land titles good for investment, economy’

Professor Myerson

Professor Myerson

Business Reporter
Land titles to the beneficiaries of the land redistribution programme will encourage investment and enhance economic activity in the country, a Nobel Prize winning economist has said.
United States of America economist Professor Roger Bruce Myerson, who shared, with Leonid Hurwicz and Eric S. Maskin, the 2007 for Economics for his work on mechanism design theory said due to the difficult history the country had, it required a major redistribution but there was need to bring finality to the issue by giving the new farmers title to the land.

“Now that the leadership said the redistribution is over; people should be given title to the land  to encourage investment. This is economically important,” Professor Myerson said.

He was speaking to The Herald Business after delivering a lecture on Democratic Decentralisation and Economic Development hosted by Old Mutual at the University of Zimbabwe on Friday.

Early this month President Mugabe launched A1 settlement permits which ensure that farmers have security of tenure. The permits can be used as collateral.
The permits are not transferable and bear a map of the plot allocated and details of the beneficiaries and their spouses, even in cases of polygamy.

They state that each farmer is entitled to six hectares of arable land and access to communal grazing land.
President Mugabe said the permits celebrate the emancipation and empowerment of local Zimbabweans.

“Following the successful implementation of our land reform programme, today’s event is appropriately akin to putting the icing on the cake,” President Mugabe said.
President Mugabe said the permits would be issued to only those who were productive and had infrastructural developments on their plots.

 

Professor Myerson said the potential that the country possesses will be realised.
“In our living memory this country has had a terrible struggle and terrible difficulties but I believe the enormous potential the country has will be realised.
“In a decade or two I think I will back and say this country was in a difficult situation,” said Prof Myerson.

Zimbabwe boasts vast natural resources that are in abundance and these include rich mineral deposits, arable tracks of land, flora and fauna, abundant sunlight and water.

The economic blueprint, Zim Asset identifies the importance of land security as key to food security and nutrition cluster.
The cluster envisages the setting up of an Agribank concessionary funding facility for A2 farmers; putting in place a livestock drought mitigation programme for the drier regions of the country and encouraging the establishment of the contract farming programme.

Prof Myerson also commended the country for the new Constitution which he said is an important development.
The Government is in the process of realigning a plethora of laws to the new Constitution.

“I think it’s very important that this country has a new Constitution and working out what the new Constitution will mean,” said Prof Myerson.
In his public lecture, Prof Myerson said the key to democratic development may be to increase the supply of leaders with reputations for spending public funds responsibly to provide public services and not just to give jobs to their supporters.

He said there must be accountability mechanism for development to spread throughout the country.
“This accounting should be to the local population who must be able to learn what their leaders have spent and what this spending has achieved,” said Prof Myerson.
“For this goal, the essential measure of success for any development project is how it enhances the reputations of the political leaders who direct it.

“Outputs of public goods count towards this political end.
All public services should be directed by indigenous leaders, but they should include both national and autonomous local leaders,” he said.

He said foreign donors should insist on transparent public accounting for all funds, both by the donors and by the national finance ministry.

Farmer axed in new wave of farm invasions

Farmer axed in new wave of farm invasions

 
 

AN indigenous farmer is reportedly battling for life at Masvingo General Hospital after he was struck with an axe on the head by suspected war veterans at the weekend in a new wave of farm invasions targeting black farm owners.

TATENDA CHITAGU

A second farmer’s car and house were torched in skirmishes that have left the Masvingo farming community shell shocked.

Mufaro Mukaro was initially admitted at Ndanga District Hospital on Sunday, but was later transferred to Masvingo General Hospital yesterday as his condition deteriorated.

He was reportedly rushed to the hospital with the axe still stuck in his head.

So critical is Mukaro’s condition that even his relatives are not being allowed to visit him except his wife.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula could not be reached for comment as her phone went unanswered. Sources said the 10 war veterans linked to the violent acts were arrested.

The case was reported under police case number RRB 2098509.

Tsaurai Lawrence Stemere (76), who owns Sundowns Farm, said he survived the brutal attack on Saturday, but his Nissan Twin Cab vehicle was reduced to a shell and his house was set ablaze by
the marauding war veterans.

Stemere lost property worth thousands of dollars, including his clothing and was only left with what he was wearing.

“I am lucky to be alive. We sped off after they barricaded the road with tree branches and started pelting us with stones,” he said.

“They then hit Mukaro with an axe in the head after smashing his car while he was inside.

“They were so heartless. Mukaro was then rushed to Ndanga Hospital and I went home.

“I found my farmhouse torched and my car reduced to ashes,” the visibly shaken Stemere told our sister paper Southern Eye yesterday.

Stemere said he bought the farm in 1995 before the government’s land reform programme and estimated that he lost property valued  at $70 000 in the inferno.

Masvingo North MP Davis Marapira, who is also Agriculture deputy minister, confirmed the disturbances and said it was against government policy to invade black-owned farms.

“That is very illegal to occupy black-owned farms. It is against the laws of the country,” he said.

“The invaders are taking the law into their own hands.
“Right now they left a farmer critically injured and another without his property.

“We do not encourage that.”

The ex-fighters allegedly accused the black owners of underutilising their land.

Late last year, anti-riot police evicted around 300 land invaders from the same farms and torched their shacks.

War veteran Ruben Chikono has since been dragged to the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court charged with inciting the former combatants to invade the farms. His case is still pending.

Some of the farms that have been invaded include Nidspruit, Potyo Farm, Thankerton Farm, Chigumedhe, Mudzikisi, Chipare, Pakai and Mukuta.

Similar cases have been reported in Goromonzi, just outside Harare.

Govt issues over 2 000 A1 settlement permits

Govt issues over 2 000 A1 settlement permits

Minister Mombeshora

Minister Mombeshora

Senior Reporter
Government has issued more than 2 000 of the recently launched permanent settlement permits to A1 farmers countrywide as it seeks to bring sanity on farms and support productivity.
The new document introduced early this month endorses A1 farmers’ security of tenure and governs use of the land.
The document also seeks to bring sanity to the land redistribution programme following allegations of multiple farm ownership.

 

Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said in an interview last week that his ministry had embarked on a countrywide audit of farms.
“Since President Mugabe launched the A1 settlement permits on July 2, we have issued over 2 000 settlement
permits to farmers,” Dr Mombeshora said.

He said A1 resettled farmers had been relying on offer letters which were issued at the district administrator’s offices.
“The offer letters that A1 farmers have been using were not effective as they were not detailed and were issued by several offices and as a result created confusion in the process,” Dr Mombeshora said.

He said the new A1 permit was the same with the 99-year lease and worked as a title deed for the land.
Dr Mombeshora said the permit issued by the Minister of Lands and Resettlement was signed by both the owner and a spouse and also gave guidelines on the inheritance of the farm in case of death.

Farmers have been facing challenges in accessing
bank loans as the majority of them did not have the security of tenure.

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