White ex-farmers say not received a cent of promised $3.5 billion compensation

Spread This News

By The Citizen

Former Zimbabwean farmers say they have not received a cent of the $3.5 billion (about R63.8 billion) compensation deal signed two years ago for expropriated farms, as agreed-to payments were missed twice.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled in favour of white Zimbabwean farmers’ monetary claim against the SA government after former president Jacob Zuma illegally, irrationally and unlawfully supported and took part in a resolution suspending the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal.

In November 2008, in one of its first human rights cases, the tribunal had ruled on Zimbabwe’s land redistribution in favour of the plaintiffs, white landowners trying to block government acquisition of their farms.

During a Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) conference recently, Saai’s Dr Theo de Jager said many Zimbabwean farmers now resided in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.


“The farmers in Zimbabwe are clear in what they want. They want compensation and the right, like others in Zimbabwe, to own property,” he said.

AfriForum’s legal representative, representing the Zimbabwean farmers, Willie Spies said it started 23 years ago when the rule of law was replaced with the rule of man in Zimbabwe.

“The results thereof were devastating. It was devastating for Zimbabwe, it was devastating for the farmers and their workers,” he said. Former Zimbabwean farmer Wynand Hart said they have not received a single cent of what was agreed to.

Hart said he started farming in 1978 and first leased land from his father. “In 1995 I purchased the property next door.

I did the wildlife on one side and my brother-in-law did the crops on the other side. We employed 75 families between us,” he said. Hart was emotional when he spoke about the one worker he took with him when they left the farm.

“He has been part of our family ever since,” he said. Hart said in the end he had only a few cents to show for a lifetime investment into the farm. “I lost everything; I lost my identity and relevance.

I lost the respect of my workers, they lost their housing, and their income,” he said.

‘Mugabe’s doing’

Another farmer Ben Freeth said the SADC tribunal had said these things should not be happening to them and that then president Robert Mugabe had turned on them.

Freeth said he remembered going home and planting a full crop only to hear the president saying they would disregard the ruling of the tribunal.

“Within two weeks of that announcement, all hell broke loose on the farm. My in-law’s houses were surrounded and there were drums played and gunshots fired, our workers were attacked and homes being burned,” he recalled.

Freeth said it was a terrible feeling when the police couldn’t protect a citizen or his property. “Eventually they burned our house and the in-law’s house and suddenly we had nothing.

“I remember when we drove away from the farm for the last time and my wife said our children would not be able to grow up on the farm any longer.

That struck me,” he added. Freeth said there was nothing left of his house when he recently returned to his farm.

“Every brick of our house was gone,” he said. Zimbabwean MP Rusty Markham said it is as bad as people say. “We only get six hours of electricity a day.

We only have power from 11pm to 6am,” he said. Markham said they relied on solar power because fuel in Zimbabwe was expensive.

“If you are a farmer in Zimbabwe, how do you irrigate when you only have a quarter of the time available to do so?”