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Zimbabwe Ready To Return Seized Land To White Farmers

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Zimbabwe government plans to repossess black owned land and give it back to former white farmers who were once dispossessed through the chaotic land reform 20 years ago during the late President Robert Mugabe era.

Just in July, President Mnangagwa signed a US$3.5 billion Global Compensation Deed to compensate white farmers who were evicted from their farms during the controversial land reform.

The Mnangagwa government said this was a major milestone in restoration of trust and cooperation between former farm owners and government.

In the latest development, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said former white farm owners who remained on compulsorily acquired land can regularize their tenure while those with offer letters can apply for 99 year leases.

This will see indigenous occupants being evicted from the same pieces of land and relocated elsewhere.

“Former farm owners on compulsorily acquired land should urgently regularize their tenure through designated Government institutions before consideration can be made for the issuance of 99-year-leases. Former farm owners who already hold offer letters may proceed to apply for 99-year leases.

“Those former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) or Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe at the time of their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements,” said Prof Ncube in a joint media briefing with Lands Minister Anxious Masuka.

He said the former farm owners should apply to the Lands ministry for consideration.

“Government will grant their applications where the circumstances presently obtaining on the ground permit the restoration of their land to them. In this regard, in order to allow former farm owners to regain possession of their pieces of land, government will in the appropriate circumstances revoke the offer letters of resettled farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” explained Prof Ncube.

Where the situation does not permit a former farmer to go back to his or her original piece of land, government will give that person alternative land as restitution, said the minister.

He said government hopes the development will bring closure to the long-standing issue of compensation of former white farmers over loss of their land.

Zimbabwe has been facing recurrent drought for the past two decades owing to poor rainfall patterns compounded by the controversial land reform which took away land from productive white farmers giving it to indigenous locals who left the pieces of land lying idle because of lack of capacity.

After realizing the mistake, government has for the past two years been auditing land with the intention to repossess underutilized land, downsize big farms and deal with multi ownership which is a result of the unplanned land reform.


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