Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Huge boost for white farmers

Huge boost for white farmers

Tendai Kamhungira  •  11 February 2018 8:40AM  •  0 comments

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has taken further steps towards compensating white farmers whose farms were seized during the chaotic agrarian reforms of 18 years ago when it on Friday appointed chairperson of the Compensation Committee that will spearhead the process.

Government has appointed Land and Agriculture ministry permanent secretary, Ringson Chitsiko, to chair the committee until October next year.

“It is hereby notified in terms of Section 29A (1) of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:10) that the minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, has appointed (Mr) Ringson John Chitsiko as the chairperson of the Compensation Committee for the period of 20 months, commencing on January 10, 2018 to October 1, 2019,” government announced in its gazette on Friday.

It is reported that close to 690 000 hectares or 17 million acres were forcibly taken from white farmers including farming equipment, livestock and personal possessions under former president Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Some farmers intend to be compensated for land and improvements, with claims totalling $9 billion. However, government is currently broke and is yet to announce the source of funding for the compensatory programme.

Chitsiko’s appointment is seen as signalling the commencement of efforts to make agricultural production attractive again.

Agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy before Mugabe’s administration ordered seizure of white-owned farms in 2000 after losing a constitutional referendum.

Thousands of landless veterans of the liberation struggle embarked on a bloody and chaotic campaign which displaced white farmers and their employees — killing off agricultural production which at one time made Zimbabwe the breadbasket of Africa — before it became a basket case as a result of the seizures.

Most land taken from white farmers was given to senior Zanu PF politicians, civil servants, and party loyalists.

Mnangagwa, who has been working hard to woo investors as part of his re-engagement programme, promised to compensate the white farmers when he was sworn in on November 24, last year.

“We must compensate our farmers in line with our laws,” Mnangagwa said at his famous inaugural speech where he called for “bygones to be bygones”.

Recently, the Local Government minister July Moyo directed provincial resettlement officers to immediately issue at least 400 remaining white commercial farmers with 99-year leases.

“Please be informed that the minister of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement has directed that all remaining white farmers be issued 99-year leases instead of the five-year leases as per the previous arrangement,” Moyo wrote.

Previously, government had limited white commercial farmers’ leases to just five years while their black counterparts enjoyed 99-year long leases.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced that the 99-year leases would now be bankable — a development which allows farmers to access loans from banks using their farms as collateral.

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