MDC wants govt compensation extended to former farm workers

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By Leopold Munhende

MDC Alliance says government should extend its new compensation policy on farm workers who also lost property during the country’s chaotic land grab period initially targeted at a tiny minority white landowners in the past two decades.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare Thursday, party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said there were over four million former farm workers who are now living in abject poverty as a result of losses incurred during Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme which started in 2000.

This comes after the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration has inked a US$3.5 billion compensation deal with commercial farmers representative groups.

The amount will cover improvements made on seized farms by the former white landowners.

However, the country’s main opposition feels the compensation regime was skewed towards one section of the victims of the violent land grab policy while ignoring farm workers.

Mahere said government should consider the welfare of the farm workers too.

“Adequate and fair compensation is necessary to ensure viability and national stability,” she said.

“Section 295 (4) of the Constitution expressly requires that the compensation payable must be assessed and paid in terms of an Act of Parliament,” said Mahere.

“As a social democratic party, we emphasise that the measures in the Land Policy must include labour, the labour that was affected by the Land Reform Programme, the four million former commercial farm workers and a 150 000 seasonal farm workers that have been totally ignored in the correctional phase of the Land Reform Programme.

“We call for urgent attention to be given to their plight and for the concerns to also be taken into account.”

Mahere said although there was need for government to publicise names of those who stood to benefit, how the US$3.5 billion was arrived at and where the money was coming from, it was important that Zimbabweans know the processes was unconstitutional.

She added: “That effort to reach out to farmers is completely unconstitutional, there cannot be a valuation or methodology outside the province of an Act of Parliament.

“The secret process that is taking place is not only unilateral but it is unconstitutional.”

A disgruntled section of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZLWVA) Wednesday also told journalists they were disappointed by Mnangagwa’s decision to pay white farmers for land they said was violently taken from their ancestors.

They demanded compensation on behalf of their ancestors.

Another group has approached the courts to stop the disbursement of the funds.