Felex Share, Harare Bureau
AT least 900 white former commercial farmers who lost land during the country’s agrarian reform have registered for compensation as Government intensifies efforts to pay them for improvements they made on the farms.
Government has allocated $53 million in the national budget for the compensation exercise.
The registration exercise is being coordinated by the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and the Compensation Steering Committee (CSC) representing the former farm owners.
CFU director Mr Ben Gilpin yesterday said the registration exercise was progressing smoothly.
“We have about 900 farmers who have responded to the call and registered,” he said.
“We are now verifying with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. Those people will be notified of the final outcome around the 10th of May and working with the Ministry, payment modalities will be known.”
He said they were yet to face any challenges in the registration exercise.
The compensation exercise, only for improvements made on the land, is being done in accordance with the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPA).
Section 72 of the Zimbabwe 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 for saying “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; 2. 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.”
President Mnangagwa recently said the land reform is irreversible and Government will uphold the Constitution by compensating white former commercial farmers for developments they made on the farms. He said his administration would always defend constitutionalism.
“In agriculture, the land reform is irreversible and Section 72 of the Constitution is very clear in this regard,” President Mnangagwa said.
“However, the same Constitution provides that no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition. For a long time Government has provided through the fiscus for such payments in respect of the said compensation on improvements of the land. Government will meet its obligation as outlined in the Constitution.”