By Ndafadza Madanha
THE ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement says the World Bank (WB) is keen to assist government pay compensation to former commercial farmers who lost land under the fast track land reform exercise.
A senior official in the ministry said the interest followed a mission undertaken by WB that was impressed by the joint efforts of government and the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) in assessing what is owed to the former farmers.
“We are currently doing assessment on what needs to be done; we have reached an agreement with Valcon which represents the former commercial farmers on how to assess the improvements on the farms. Initially we disagreed as the former farmers used Google earth and we go on site to assess the infrastructure development but through consensus we reached a decision on how to proceed.
The WB sent a mission for a week and a half to assess our work and the team was impressed with our work and they acknowledged it was of international standard. The WB is set to come back and help us on the issue of payment,” said Marius Dzinoreva director responsible for Acquisition and Valuation in the ministry of agriculture.
He said in 2016 government paid out US$64.6m towards compensation while the 2019 budget statement set aside US$17.5m for the purpose which falls short of the US$10B the CFU says is required for the acquired land and improvements.
However, under Zimbabwe’s constitution government is obliged to pay for only for improvements and developments on the acquired land while the land is expropriated to the state.
The Zimbabwe government is keen to compensate the former commercial farmers to improve chances of having sanctions imposed by the European Union and USA government following the land reform exercise lifted.
However, the government decision to commit to compensate the former white farmers has bitterly divided public opinion in the country.
“The compensation issue should look into the aspect of historical injustice, people lost their land and livestock and these are legitimate claims, should these be discarded and concentrate on the more technical terms,” said Walter Chambati the executive director of the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies.