Zimbabwe: $ 3,5 billion paid to white farmers as land compensation

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Harare will issue long-term bonds and jointly approach international donors and farmers to raise funds.

Zimbabwe on Wednesday agreed to pay $ 3,5 billion in compensation to white farmers whose land has been expropriated by the government to resettle black families, one step closer to resolving one of the world's most serious policies. conflicts of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation has no money and will issue long-term bonds and jointly approach international donors with farmers to raise funds, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago, Mugabe's government at times carried out violent evictions of 4 white farmers and redistributed land to around 500 black families, claiming it was correcting colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at the offices of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's State House in the capital Harare showed that white farmers would be compensated for the infrastructure of the farms and not for the land itself, according to the national constitution.

Mnangagwa said Wednesday's deal was "historic in many ways."

“This brings closure and a new start in the history of land discourse in Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

“The process that brought us to this event is just as historic as it is a reaffirmation of the irreversibility of the land as well as a symbol of our commitment to constitutionalism, respect for the rule of law and rights. of property, ”he said.

Signature policy

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said at the signing ceremony: “In the deal, we gave ourselves 12 months to travel the world, around Zimbabwe, to think about ways to raise these funds. We are determined to make it happen. It's also about commitments, not necessarily about putting money on the table. It is a matter of commitment. "

Details on how much each farmer or his descendants, given the time since the foreclosure of farms, were likely to get were not yet clear, but the government said it would prioritize the elderly when of the construction of settlements.

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Farmers would receive 50 percent of the compensation after one year and the rest within five years.

Ncube and Acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers' unions and a foreign consortium that undertook assessments also drafted the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to solve this long-standing problem,” said Andrew Pascoe, leader of the Commercial Farmers Union representing white farmers.

Land grabbing was one of Mugabe's signature policies that spoiled ties with the West. Mugabe, who was deposed in a 2017 coup and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The program still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe, as opponents see it as a partisan process that has left the country struggling to feed itself. But his supporters say he has empowered landless blacks.

Mnangagwa said land reform could not be reversed, but the payment of compensation was essential to reestablish ties with the West.

Zimbabwe launched controversial land reforms in 2000 when activists from the ruling ZANU-PF party and liberation veterans of the 1970s took over large swathes of farms.

Mugabe justified land grabbing as a way to right historical wrongs by claiming land that was forcibly taken from the country's black people.

Critics accuse Mugabe's land program of wreaking havoc on the agricultural sector - a mainstay of the economy. Economic output fell by half as a result of land seizures and the economy has been hampered since then.

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