TREASURY has released $22 million to 400 white former commercial farmers as part compensation for infrastructure developments on farms compulsorily acquired by Government during the Fast Track Land Reform Programme.
The money is part of the $52 million set aside in the 2019 Budget.
The Sunday Mail has gathered that nearly half of the 900 farmers who registered for compensation have received $55 000 each under the Interim Relief Payment Scheme being coordinated by Government and the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU).
CFU director, Mr Ben Gilpin, confirmed the development saying priority had been given to elderly former farmers, who were struggling financially.
“In the National Budget, an amount of $52 million was set aside for compensation,” said Mr Gilpin.
“Farmer representatives requested that instead of this money being used to settle a few claims, it would be better to spread it amongst many.
“This is because there are many elderly ex-farmers who are struggling financially.
“The reality is that the average age of farmers, at the time of their evictions, was around 55. Now, almost 20 years on, many are in their late seventies or older and are not able to work.
“For most, their farms were their pensions and these were lost. Government agreed to this request and that the payment be spread to many.”
Mr Gilpin said in April, Government requested a list of names of ex-farmers who needed an interim relief payment.
He said of the estimated 3 500 former farmers, around 900 had so far responded to the interim relief.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister, Perrance Shiri, could not be drawn into giving more details on the development.
“It is too early to talk about that. We will make an announcement at the appropriate time,” said Minister Shiri.
Compensation for improvements made on the land is being undertaken in accordance with the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs).
Section 72 of the Constitution stipulates that where land is acquired for public purpose: “No compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on it before its acquisition.”
Further, Section 295 states the only two circumstances where land is compensated are: “Any indigenous Zimbabwean whose agricultural land was acquired by the State before the effective date is entitled to compensation from the State for the land and any improvements that were on the land when it was acquired;
“Any person whose agricultural land was acquired by the State before the effective date and whose property rights at that time were guaranteed or protected by an agreement concluded by the Government of Zimbabwe with the government of another country, is entitled to compensation from the State for the land and any improvements in accordance with that agreement.”