PARLY: Mthuli refuses to make public $3.5bln white farmers deal, says agreement ‘confidential’; but MP insists – ‘We as a House need to know’

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By UK correspondent

In my case, having lost a farm I am now paying tax to myself for that land which does not make sense.”

OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Allan Norman Markham has insisted that the US$3.5 billion compensation agreement between government and white former commercial farmers should be made public so that Zimbabweans know what is going on.

The Harare North member of parliament was expressing concern in Parliament last week after being given a 3-page summary of the document by the Ministry of Finance.

Government signed the agreement with representatives of white former commercial farmers in 2020 with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, at the time, saying the deal was a significant step towards bringing closure to the land reform programme.

Last week, Markham pressed Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube for the full document but the treasury chief pleaded confidentiality.

“On the Global Settlement Deed, it was my intention to give him a three page summary and here are my reasons,” said Professor Ncube.

“This is still a document signed under restricted conditions of confidentiality. It only becomes public when they have signed the cessation and when we are ready to pay,  then it comes before this House for approval and I will table it before this House for approval properly.

“For now, it is still in abeyance as a negotiation document. We have no wish to release it and if I do, then I am violating the agreement with the farmers, they will be very upset.”

Markham insisted however, that the agreement should be put before Parliament in full.

“We, as a House, need to know what is happening and what we are tying ourselves to for the future.  I do not accept any confidential agreement on a loan that I have paid taxes to,” he said.

Opposition CCC legislator Allan Norman Markham

“In my case, having lost a farm I am now paying tax to myself for that land which does not make sense.

“Mr. Speaker, what that does highlight is that we have numerous loans in this country by the Government of Zimbabwe with confidentiality, and I may not bring it to this House.

“What is the point of this House Mr. Speaker?  We changed the Constitution, you do not have to ask us anymore to borrow money, saka ngatiende kumba chete because we are doing nothing.”

Under Zimbabwe’s controversial and violent land reforms which started in the early 2000s, government compulsorily acquired farm land from more than 4,000 white farmers to resettle landless blacks.

The Zanu PF administration said this was meant to redress colonial land ownership imbalances that were skewed in favour of whites, and also to economically empower the country’s majority blacks.

Mnangagwa’s government indicated its willingness to end the compensation dispute, which lasted for two decades with former commercial farmers, by signing the global compensation agreement (GCA).

In the agreement, which was publicly opposed by some in the ruling party, the government offered to pay the sum of US$3.5 billion to the ex-farmers for their expropriated farmlands.

The first payment under the deal was made in July last year when the state-linked Kuvimba Mining House Ltd transferred $1 million to the farmers with the government asking for a delay in paying the full $3.5 billion it had agreed to a year earlier.

The administration hopes the deal will help get sanctions imposed by the West removed and improve investment to turn around the country’s battered economy.