A GROUP of anti-Government white former farmers with links to the opposition on Wednesday held a meeting in Bulawayo, where they resolved to throw spanners in the Global Compensation Deed (GCD), The Herald can report.
The US$3,5 billion GCD agreement was signed between Government and the white former farmers, represented by the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), the Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance (SAFCA) and a foreign consortium, Valcon, which undertook valuations, in July this year.
At least 2 801 former commercial farmers agreed to the compensation out of 2 963 that were approached with the offer much to the rancour of the country’s detractors who felt stripped of their favoured claim that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe.
At the forefront of trying to sabotage the compensation for improvements made on farms, not the land, are white former farmers and known opponents of the successful land reform programme namely, Messrs Ben Freeth, Dave Conolly and Iain Sheasby, The Herald established.
According to minutes of the meeting that was held at the International Trade Fair Grounds, that have been seen by this publication, the white former farmers-turned-political-activists resolved to de-campaign the Government initiative so as to ensure that the opposition reverses the land reform programme when it gets into power.
“The meeting agreed that the white former farmers should keep their title deeds as the real value of land will be realised when a new government takes over, while SAFCA was mandated to commission a research study to establish the proper value of land per hectare in the SADC region in order to ensure that they are properly compensated for their 11 million hectares taken over by Government,” an insider said.
Mr Freeth confirmed the meeting yesterday, but could not give further details, saying he was driving.
In a letter advising the white former farmers of the meeting, Mr Conolly had implored members to attend the Wednesday indaba so as to reverse the GCD.
“We have organised a meeting for title deeds holders at the Bulawayo Showgrounds for 2.15 pm on Wednesday 14 October. Ben Freeth and Iain Sheasby will be addressing us on important issues as far as property rights are concerned. We apologise for the short notice. Please make every effort to attend so that decisions can be made from an informed position. The meeting has been discussed with SAFCA leadership,” read a letter that was written by Mr Conolly.
However, there are apparently fewer sympathisers for the faction of the white former farmers-turned-political activists as the chairperson of SAFCA, Mr Cedric Wilde dismissed the attempts to put a wedge between the white former farmers and Government.
“I, as SAFCA chairman, would like to clarify a point made in the email sent by Dave Conolly. With reference to his statement ‘The meeting has been discussed with SACFA leadership’ — this infers that the meeting had been endorsed by SAFCA. Kindly, note that this is not the case — SACFA leadership felt that, to ensure transparency, and freedom of choice, it is necessary for all members to use their discretion and to form their own opinions.
“However, SACFA leadership has been mandated to sign the Compensation Deed on behalf of the significant majority of our members, and therefore we distance ourselves from this meeting. I trust this gives clarity to Mr Conolly’s misleading statement,” read the letter that was undersigned by Mr Wilde in part.
The New Dispensation has put the land reform programme to bed through honouring the country’s constitution, a move that has peeved the opposition and its handlers.
Government signed the Global Compensation Deed with former commercial farmers in the context of moving the Vision 2030 agenda forward so as to ensure its timely realisation through increased agricultural productivity, among other initiatives in the mining and tourism sectors.