Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says Government does not have capacity to pay for farm compensations at present but will acknowledge indebtedness over a period of time with the farmers that had their land taken from them during the Land Reform Programme.
Minister Chinamasa told delegates at a consensus based compensation mechanisms workshop meeting that Government would need time to pay the farmers although there was need to bring closure to the land programme.
“Currently we do not have the budget, or resources to pay now, we have liquidity challenges in the economy and a debt burden which should be taken into consideration in developing a compensation plan,” he said adding that any payment plan that will be agreed upon should include contribution by new farmers into a fund that will service the indebtedness.
“Compensation mechanisms should include into consideration the extent to which the national budget is able to fund compensation and the extent of contribution by the new farmers.
“Those who have benefited will be called to pay for the inheritance. This, however, will not be achieved overnight as Government is currently in the process of re-mapping the land to have permanent boundaries in order to issue out security of tenure.
He also said any compensation method mooted must be home-grown, and be in cognisance of the economy but said it was important to go through it as part of re-engagement efforts with the international community.
“We want to open a new chapter, we have lost valuable economic time and given our potential we should not be where we are today,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said: “What the economy is currently facing is lack of confidence, which we have mutually destroyed ourselves and can only
be restored if we engage with each other.
“The economy is for all of us but for as long we are quarrelling, we will not get anywhere,” he said.
“My view is that we should get out of the trenches and talk to each other.
“Let’s not create snipers out of trenches so that we are forced to remain in the trenches. Being there is not good for anyone, including the former farmers, new farmers, Government and economy.
“We are all losers if we don’t conclude this issue, and put to rest the land reform programme,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said contrary to reports that a $10 billion fund had been created, the compensation figure will only come up after completion of the evaluations.
Earlier, Lands and Rural Settlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora had indicated that to date 1 519 farms out of 6 240 had been valued. Mombeshora in contrast to what Chinamasa said told the conference that about 240 previous owners had been fully compensated and 17 partially paid.
Minister Mombeshora said it has always been Government’s desire to honour its obligations to pay the former farm owners, but the process had been delayed due to conflicts on the valuation processes.
“I wish to unequivocally re-affirm that it has always been and it remains the intention of Government to pay fair compensation to the affected farmers as prescribed under the relevant legal framework in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Land Acquisition Act Chapter 20:10,” he said.
Minister Mombeshora said Section 295(1) and (2) of the Constitution provides for the payment of compensation for land and improvements to indigenous owners whose farms were acquired and similarly for properties protected by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection (BIPPA) Agreements, while Section 295(3) of the Constitution provides for compensation for improvements only for any other category of former farm owners.
“While a number of former owners have consented to the compensation offered, Treasury has not been able to provide the requisite funds to my Ministry. Currently eleven (11) former farm owners have consented but have not yet been paid,” he said.
He said the Government had received financial support worth $7,8 million from the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union to conduct valuations and other related activities under the compensation programme.
“On the other hand, the Ministry of Finance and Development and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have recently released sufficient financial resources to my Ministry to enable the speedy completion of the outstanding farm valuations and title surveys for the new farms.
“Similarly, Treasury has given approval for the operationalisation of the Ministry’s Compensation Fund into which all the revenue generated by the Ministry is channelled,” he said.
Minister Mombeshora added, “I have been assured of their commitment to making more financial resources available to my Ministry as the need arises, for the completion of all activities related to the land reform programme including the issuance of security of tenure documents to the beneficiaries of the land reform programme and the operations of the soon to be established Land Commission.”
He said all these endeavours
were an indication of Government desire to speedily bring to finality the issue of compensating all former farm owners.
But, he said the process was moving at a slow pace due to various reasons including that the valuation process was time consuming and costly as it required on-site inspections of the farms.
“The majority of former owners are no longer resident in Zimbabwe and this makes contacts very difficult. Those delegated authority in most cases do not produce notarised proof to that effect.
“In the case of previously company owned farms, there is need for all shareholders to consent or for company resolutions nominating the authorised representative. In some cases divorced spouses make different approaches to the Ministry claiming their individual share,” he said.