There has been no policy shift by Government on the matter of compensation relating to land acquired under the Land Reform Programme, contrary to media reports last week, a Cabinet minister has said. There have been reports that Finance Minister had changed goalposts and Government would soon compensate people whose farms were compulsorily acquired for the land, improvements and machinery.
However, in an interview yesterday, Minister Chinamasa set the record straight, saying there had been “no shift in Government’s position away from what the Constitution provides”.
Minister Chinamasa also said any compensation would only be paid after certain legal and technical processes had been completed.
“The position on compensation for land acquired under the Land Reform Programme is clearly set out in the Constitution,” he said.
Section 295 of the Constitution says: “(1) Any indigenous Zimbabwean whose agricultural land was acquired by the State … is entitled to compensation from the State for the land and any improvements that were made on the land when it was acquired.
“(2) Any person whose agricultural land was acquired by the State … 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.
“(3) Any person, other than a person referred to in subsection (1) or (2), whose agricultural land was acquired by the State … is entitled to compensation from the State only for improvements that were on the land when it was acquired.
“(4) Compensation payable under subsections (1), (2) and (3) must be assessed and paid in terms of an Act of Parliament.”
Minister Chinamasa said Government would thus be guided by these provisions, as read with Section 292 of the Constitution.
“Now, Section 292 provides and directs government to take steps to give security of tenure for those who benefited under the Land Reform Programme. Some of the measures that we are taking to provide security of tenure include the following:
“Treasury has made resources available to the Ministry of Lands to compliment resources provided by the European Union with technical assistance from the UNDP to remap the new boundaries of land acquired under the Land Reform Programme.
“As the public will know, the farms acquired under the Land Reform Programme were cut up into smaller sizes and distributed to over 300 000 households under the A1 Scheme and about 17 000 under the A2 Scheme.
“We now need to remap and fix the new boundaries and that exercise has started under the Ministry of Lands, who have acquired GPS equipment and the work is already under way.
“When that work is completed, individually where the work is done and completed, we then proceed to give security documents; in the case of A1, land permits, and in the case of A2 farms, 99-year leases.
“The draft 99-year leases have been negotiated and agreed to include and incorporate collateral features.
“Coming back to compensation, of the 6 000 or so farms that we acquired under the Land Reform Programme, only about 1 500 have their improvements valuated.
“We have provided resources to the Ministry of Lands to speed up valuation of the remainder of the farms and this includes farms which were acquired and which belonged to indigenous Zimbabweans, Bippa farms, as well as land which falls outside these two categories.
“Only when we know what the figures are after valuation can we enter discussions on the modalities of payment of compensation.”