Govt dismisses plans to return black owned land to whites

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By Alois Vinga

GOVERNMENT has moved to dispel reports of a looming plot to seize and return tracts of arable land to its white former owners.

On Wednesday, government provided finer details around a compensation regime targeted at an estimated 4 000 white commercial farmers who lost their farms under Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform process post-2000.

But addressing the media during a joint press conference Wednesday, agriculture and finance ministers, Anxious Masuka and Mthuli Ncube said not every white former commercial farmer would receive compensation save for those falling under two specified categories.

Recent pronouncements by the two cabinet ministers have suggested government would seize tracts of land from the hands of black beneficiaries for return to previous owners.

This has also been fuelled by inherent government mistrust by citizens owing to general lack of consistency and overnight policy shifts by the Zanu PF led administration.

The two government ministers dismissed earlier reports alleging that the majority of indigenous farmers were going to lose their land and described such claims as “misinterpretation”.

“The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20), section 295 clearly defines two categories entitled to compensation for both land and improvements.

“These are indigenous Black African Zimbabweans, whose land was acquired by the state and any person whose agricultural land was protected by Bilateral Investment Treaties,” they said in a statement.

This implies that any indigenous Zimbabwean whose agricultural land was acquired by the state before the effective date is entitled to compensation from the state for the land and any improvements that were there when it was acquired.

Those whose property rights at that time were guaranteed or protected by an agreement concluded by the government fall under the categories.

Said the ministers, “The statements regarding the reversal of the Land Reform are misplaced and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.

“We reiterate that the land is the birthright of all indigenous Zimbabweans and we will guard it jealously as we strive towards fostering food security and the fulfilment of Vision 2030.”

They reiterated Zimbabwe’s land reform process was “irreversible”.