By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is set to seize some pieces of now black owned land for return to some white former commercial farmers.
This was revealed by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube during a joint media briefing with Lands Minister Anxious Masunda in Harare Monday.
Ncube said former farm owners who remained on compulsorily acquired land can now regularise their tenure while those who had offer letters can apply for 99-year leases.
The Treasury chief also said white former landowners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries, which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPA) at the time of land acquisition were entitled to compensation for both land and improvements.
He added, “In order to allow former farmer owners in this category to regain possession of the pieces of land that were acquired from them, government will in the appropriate circumstances, revoke the offer letters of resettled farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere.”
Ncube said “where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available”.
“Where a former farm owner under this category regains possession of the land that was previously acquired from them or accepts an offer by government of the land as restitution, this shall be in full final settlement or to the extent that may be mutually agreed with government, of any claims for compensation from the state that the former owner may have,” he said.
“Where it is not possible or desirable for the state to restore the acquired land to its former owner or offer alternative land, government shall offer compensation to the former farm owner based on the same valuation methodology as was applied under the Global Compensation Deal.”
In July this year, government announced it was going to pay US$3.5 billion in terms of compensation to former commercial farmers whose land was forcibly taken and offered to landless blacks during former President Robert Mugabe’s era.
In an effort to bring closure to the land redistribution exercise, the Global Compensation Agreement between farmers’ representative groups and government said farmers would be compensated for infrastructural developments and not the land itself.
In 2000, Mugabe’s administration carried out violent evictions on more than 4000 white farmers.
A lot of them left for neighbouring countries and the region to continue pursuing their farming enterprise.
However, government’s land reform programme failed to bring the desired results with the country now importing the staple maize grain to replenish local production.