White ex-farmers unimpressed with $53 million compensation; say owed $9 billion

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By Staff Reporter & Agencies

HARARE: A top farming official says the government’s budget allocation of $53 million to compensate white farmers won’t be enough to solve the outstanding problem of compensation.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced the fund in his 2019 budget proposals which were put before Parliament this Thursday.

Government has long since resolved to compensate the farmer and the budgetary provision, according to Prof Ncube showed the administration’s “commitment to this obligation”.

However, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Director Ben Purcell-Gilpin said the $53 million cannot solve the compensation issue.

But he said it showed the government hasn’t forgotten about the need to repay those who lost their farms over the past 18 years, adding that some of the farmers are in desperate financial straits.

Purcell-Gilpin said it was also possible that most of the $53 million allocated under Thursday’s budget would go to compensate foreign landowners, who were protected by BIPPA trade agreements – though there’s no confirmation of that.

Around 40 Dutch farmers under such agreements have been trying for years to get around $25 million from the government.

Around 4,000 white farmers lost land in the government’s reform programme launched 18 years ago and are said to be owed up to $9 billion.

The government does not appear to acquire with that figure however.

“Work on the extent of the government’s obligation is still to be finalised,” said Prof Ncube in his budget statement.

He added; “The resources required to compensate and put closure to this important issue is obviously beyond the capacity of the budget to finance.

“In this regard, government is engaging international financial institutions and other stakeholders in exploring various sustainable options for mobilising the requisite compensation resources.”