Locals to compensate white farmers: Minister

GOVERNMENT says locals who were allocated farms under the often violent land reform programme nearly two decades ago must compensate white farmers for developments on the land they took over.

BY KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA

Zimbabwe, under former President Robert Mugabe, forcibly took land from white farmers without compensation, incurring the wrath of the West, who accused the former leader of human rights violations.

In 2016, former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government could issue Treasury Bills and impose a land levy to raise money to pay evicted farmers.

But Land and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri told the National Assembly yesterday that the new farmers had to contribute towards the land they acquired.

He was responding to a question by Zaka North MP Robson Mavhenyengwa, who had asked him to explain if government was going to compensate the former owners.

“It is true that new farmers have to contribute towards the cost of improvement on the farms and that money is ultimately used for compensation,” Shiri said.

But Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda asked Shiri to explain the rationale behind the decision, as the land was expropriated by government and the Constitution stipulates that the State was the one to pay compensation.

Section 295(1) of the Constitution stipulates that compensation for acquired agricultural land will be by done by the State.

“There were improvements done on the farms and the new farmer is expropriating those improvements and quite a number of them now have 99-year leases and all new farmers are looking forward to that,” Shiri responded.

“It makes common sense that the persons that directly benefitted from the improvements compensate the farmers.”

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC Alliance) then questioned why government, in the new dispensation, made a commitment to pay compensation, but was now reneging.

Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) asked Shiri to explain why the maize producer prize was at $390 when the world over it was $190.

He alleged some Zimbabwean bigwigs were ordering cheap maize from Zambia and selling it at $390 to the Grain Marketing Board.

Shiri said he was not aware of the matter.

Meanwhile, Senate sat for a record 10 minutes, wasting taxpayers’ money again after only three senators contributed to debate to the presidential speech.

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