ED moves to stop farm seizures

COVID-19 tests u-turn
President Emmerson Mnangagwa


PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has moved to stop new farm invasions, calling them acts of indiscipline which will not be tolerated by his government.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, speaking at a joint Press conference with white former commercial farmers in Harare yesterday, said all farm occupations especially those targeting productive land should be stopped, as Mnangagwa seeks to achieve peace with former white farmers and ramp up agricultural production.

“Government has received numerous reports regarding the resurgence of illegal land occupations, particularly on highly productive farms thereby disrupting production,” Ncube said.
“This comes at a time when the focus should be on increasing utilisation and productivity on agricultural land.”

Fresh farm seizures had started causing concern on safety of investments in the country, with investors questioning the authenticity of Mnangagwa’s “open for business” mantra.

“These illegal farm occupations are taking place in complete disregard of offer letters which government has issued to the affected farmers.

“Such disorderly behaviour among our citizens is indiscipline of the highest level which government does not condone or tolerate. It should stop forthwith,” Ncube said.

Government has also said it will restore land ownership to all black farmers and others covered under the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements of Bilateral Investment Treaties, with Zimbabweans who lost their farms during the 2000 chaotic land reform programme set to reclaim their land.

In the event that they can’t get their land back, government said it would compensate them both for land and improvements which will be done separate from the global compensation agreement.

Government, under the global compensation agreement, pledged to pay US$3,5 billion to white former commercial farmers for infrastructural developments made on grabbed farms.

“… they are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements, in terms of subsection (1) and (2) of section 295 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. This category of farm owners is not eligible for payment of compensation under the global agreement signed on 29 July 2020,” Ncube said.

Farmers settled on these tracts of land face eviction as Mnangagwa seeks to right the wrongs of the past.

“Former farm owners can apply in writing to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Resettlement for restoration of tittle to the piece of agriculture land that was compulsorily acquired from them for resettlement … government will, in appropriate circumstances, revoke the offer letters of resettled farmers currently occupying these pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” Ncube said.