via ‘White farmers should be compensated’ – DailyNews Live Mugove Tafirenyika • 18 December 2015
HARARE – Government must prioritise the compensation of white former commercial farmers for improvements they made on land it acquired during the ad hoc and often chaotic land reform programme which started in 2000, a Zanu PF MP has said.
Contributing to a motion on the Finance Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, Zanu PF MP for Harare East Terrence Mukupe bemoaned that the 2016 National Budget had not made provisions for compensation.
Going against his party’s long established position that the white farmers will not be paid restitution, Mukupe, a banker by profession said failure to compensate white former commercial farmers had led government into liability.
“We still have not brought in the books and we do not know and have not made any provisions in terms of what is actually the extent of the liability that we have.
“So, I guess when we are looking at the issues of some of the Treasury Bills and all the monies that we are raising, this is an issue that we also have to take into consideration,” Mukupe said.
The Harare East legislator also described the issue of compensation as “a big elephant in the room which was not touched on”.
“At the moment, it is not really clear in as far as the land compensation is concerned. We embarked on a policy where we acquired a lot of land and I think the policy that we have got is that all the land that we have acquired, we are going to be making payments on improvements to the land to the white owners”.
Although President Robert Mugabe is also on record saying that while his government had no obligation to pay reparations to the victims of the chaotic and often violent land grabs led by the country’s veterans of the war of liberation, compensation for improvements was mandatory and nothing concrete has thus far been done.
Speaking at the opening of the Zimbabwe International Investment Conference in Harare in 2009 Mugabe said: “We pay compensation for improvements, developments, improvements, whatever you can evaluate as improvements, we pay compensation and that’s our obligation.”
He was responding to Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) official, Trevor Gifford, who had asked when full and fair compensation would be paid to farmers who lost their farms as a result of the land reform programme.
The bulk of Zimbabwe’s estimated 4 000 white commercial farmers have been forcibly evicted from their farms over the past decade.
Once a net exporter of food, Zimbabwe has since 2002, faced severe food shortages that critics blame on Mugabe’s populist policies such as the land reform programme which took land from productive farmers and mainly benefited his inner circle.
The country’s main opposition MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai for instance insists that Mugabe’s cronies — and not ordinary peasants — benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the government’s stated one-man one-farm policy.
Findings of successive land audits have not been made public amid concerns that government is concealing damning information.
On his part, Mugabe argues that the reforms were necessary to correct a colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils.
And on perennial food shortages Mugabe characteristically blames the West and at times cites changing weather patterns.