Penniless Zimbabwe struggles to compensate white farmers

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HOPE for most white commercial farmers to ever get compensated by government for the farms grabbed under the chaotic fast track land reform programme is quickly fading amid indications the state is facing serious financial constraints after only paying for a measly 4% of the total land acquired.

 

Of the 6 214 large-scale commercial farms that were grabbed largely from white commercial farmers and subdivided into smaller A1 and A2 farms, government has been able to compensate for only 240 farms to date, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora has said.

“To date my ministry has valued 1 519 farms out of 6 240 and 240 previous owners have been fully compensated, while 17 were partially paid,” Mombeshora told a development of consensus-based compensation mechanism workshop in the capital yesterday.

“Whilst it has been government’s desire to honour its obligations to pay the former farm owners, the very slow pace has been occasioned by the following factors: the valuation process is time-consuming and costly as it requires on-site inspections of the farms that are spread across the breath of the country. The human and financial resources have had an impact on the progress.”

He said while a number of farm owners have consented to offers made after valuation, Treasury has been unable to provide the requisite funds.

“Currently, 11 former farm owners who have consented have not yet been paid. The majority of former owners are no longer resident in Zimbabwe and this makes contact very difficult,” said Mombeshora.

“I wish to unequivocally reaffirm that it has always been and remains the intention of government to pay fair compensation to the affected farmers as prescribed under the Land Acquisition Act which provides for the payment of land and improvements to indigenous owners and for properties protected by bilateral investments and protection agreements while Section 293(3)of the constitution provides for compensation for improvements only to any other category.”

Government’s consultant in the process Maxwell Mutema said other technical aspects are also delaying completion, adding compensation will be done using either the depreciated replacement value method or market value.

“Among all areas of valuation, agricultural valuation is one of the most complex because one has to grapple with all sorts of things,” he said, adding: “Whenever there is compensation for compulsory acquisition, there is a lot of negotiation.”

The European Union has so far availed US$7,8 million, which has boosted capacity in evaluation and compensation mechanism.

In a speech read on his behalf, UNDP resident representative Bishow Parajuli said the compensation initiative will put Zimbabwe’s economy on a sound footing in the long-run.

l Meanwhile, government announced yesterday that it will pay last year’s bonuses to members of the police force today followed by bonus payments to workers in the prisons and health sectors on Thursday next week.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the dates for the payment of bonuses to workers in the education sector and the rest of the civil service will remain April 30 2016 and May 31 2016 respectively.-AMH

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