Harare: Zimbabwe will in May, start compensating white commercial farmers who were illegally evicted from their farms during the controversial land reform programme, the government has announced.
Over 4, 000 farmers suffered losses when former President Robert Mugabe gave a go-ahead to ruling Zanu-PF supporters and ex-combatants to grab farms and parcel them to landless blacks.
“….The registration exercise and the list of farmers should be completed by the end of April 2019, after which the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners…,” read in part a joint statement by Lands and Finance ministers Perence Shiri and Mthuli Ncube respectively.
Organisations representing the former white commercial farmers estimate that as much as $9 billion is needed for compensation.
The Finance minister in his 2019 budget only allocated U.S $53 million for the exercise, a drop in the ocean.
“In the meantime, government’s accelerated farm valuation exercise for farm improvements is expected to be completed by end of April 2019. This will pave way for both parties to reach an agreement on the compensation quantum figure for farm improvements by end of May 2019,” the ministers added.
Agricultural experts argue that the land reform exercise knocked Zimbabwe’s once thriving agro sector, a claim dismissed by the ruling party which instead blames Western sanctions.