By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A GROUP of war veterans has given government 48 hours to reverse a controversial decision to pay US$3,5 billion compensation to white former landowners or face a court challenge.
The group threatened to approach the High Court seeking an order to stop government from compensating white former commercial farmers who lost their land during the country’s violent land reform process in the past two decades.
Government recently signed a US$3.5 billion Global Compensation Agreement with local farmers’ representative groups.
The deal, that has been welcomed by the groups, will see government legally required only to pay for infrastructure such as buildings and dams.
Government is not obliged to pay any compensation for movable assets that were left behind such as irrigation pipes, tractors and all other farming equipment.
In a letter to Lands Minister Anxious Masuka, titled, ‘Demand for Suspension For Its Discriminatory’, the war veterans pressure group said the former settlers must also pay compensation for the land they forcibly took from Zimbabweans during the onset of colonialism in the 19th century.
“Clients instruct that we demand on their behalf, we hereby do, that within 48 hours of receipt of this letter issue out a response(s) to ourselves together with a public statement admitting that the recent July 2020 compensation claim for farm improvements agreement between government and former settler white races progeny citizenry was discriminatory,” reads the letter by Kanoti and Partners Public Interest Lawyers.
“On the grounds of race and constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment upon the indigenous black race citizens of this nation coming as the agreement did ahead of/ or for having prioritised settler white race concerns as against the local black race’s own long outstanding pre-colonial and also post–colonial sufferance under the machinations of the occupying settler white race and therefore that government is withdrawing from or suspending performance.
“Clients are shocked government acted in the manner it did and view the agreement as a sell-out understanding.
“And therefore whose implementation must of necessity for continued harmonious relationship of the black and white races be suspended pending government and former colonial interests attendance to the indigenous black race’s own pre and colonial, together with post-colonial compensation concerns which occurred well before the white occupied farm invasion of 2000.”
Lands Minister Masuka Wednesday said the government was simply following the rule of law.
“The apprehension is uncalled for and unnecessary,” he said.
“In my view, there is no disruption because the number we are talking about is a minority.
“So, a reassurance again that this statement is about clarification of the global compensation agreement and that this is not reversing the land reform program.”
Minister Masuka said, “This was the prime cause of the First and Second Chimurenga and for the fast track land reform program that we undertook but we acknowledge that in the process, there were few properties (2%) that will be compensated and now we want to follow the process of the constitution to correct that.”