Govt begins paying former white commercial farmers

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, has begun registering former commercial white farmers who lost their land under the chaotic land redistribution exercise.

In a statement Sunday, the Ministry of Lands said it was identifying and registering former white farm owners who want to participate in the interim advance payments scheme. The scheme according to the statement is targeting those “in distress.”

The programme is being coordinated by Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) and the Compensations Steering Committee (CSS) representing former farm owners according to the statement.

“The ad-hoc Compensation Working Group, comprising government officials and the representatives of former farm owners, is currently working towards the compensation and establishing the compensation quantum figure for farm improvements based on an agreed method of valuation,” the Ministry headed by former Air Force chief Perrance Shiri said.

The statement added that the latest move reflected government’s commitment to settling its side of the bargain.

“Given the significant progress made to-date, it is anticipated that this comprehensive farm improvements valuation will be completed by end of May 2019.

“Reflecting government’s commitment to compensate former farm owners, for farm improvements and recognising that a larger number of farmers are still to be compensated government allocated RTGS$53 million in the 2019 National Budget for interim advance payments,” said the statement published in the State media.

“These interim advance payments will be made to former farm owners affected by the land reform programme and who are in financial distress.”

In a separate statement the CFU said it has developed a form which applicants will complete. The form according to the statement does not jeopardise future claims for full compensation.

“As this is a limited fund, it is hoped that those who are not in financial distress do not take up the offer so as maximise the effect on others not so fortunate,” said CFU.

“Whether you take it up or not, does not alter your rights to be compensated in any way, except that what you receive now will be deducted from your final computation.”

In his inauguration speech in 2017 President Emmerson Mnangagwa, promised to compensate over 4000 former white farmers whose land was forcibly taken away under the fast track land reform program.

While the former farm owners have been demanding full compensation, government has passed a law that provides for payment in respect of developments only.