By Idah Mhetu
NEW British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is willing to re-open discussions on land compensation with Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed.
Mnangagwa told journalists during his State visit to Namibia last week that Zimbabwe has no regrets on its decision to compulsorily acquire land.
“Fortunately the current United Kingdom government is willing to discuss the issue, in order for them to contribute towards compensating their own kith and kin,” said Mnangagwa.
Johnson took over as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom last week succeeding Theresa May who was forced to resign over the manner she handled the Brexit deal.
Mnangagwa also sought to clarify public perceptions that his government had agreed to land compensation.
“Zimbabwe has not agreed to pay compensation on land. Get that clear.
“What we agreed in our Constitution is to pay compensation for improvements on land by those who had acquired our land. Initially, there was an agreement with the British to compensate their kith and kin,” said the Zanu PF leader.
Amid speculation that his administration was slowly allowing former commercial white farmers back on land and removing blacks who benefited from the chaotic programme undertaken by his predecessor Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa shot from the hip.
“We as Zimbabweans don’t regret the decision to take back our land. We did not take back the land in order to be productive.
“We took it back because it was ours. What we do with it is nobody’s business. It is up to our people to determine that and fortunately we want to make it productive and hence we will do that,” the President said.
He added that Zimbabwe enjoys support from regional power block Sadc and will continue to use its own resources to change its economic fortunes.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe was isolated and cut off from the international economic system on allegations of human rights abuses, lack of respect for property rights and the controversial land redistribution programme.
Government claims at independence the then British government led by Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative had agreed to compensate white farmers majority of whom were of English descend but this was reversed when Labour leader John Major and his successor Tony Blair took over in the 90s, forcing Mugabe to use force to dispossess the farmers.