Zimbabwe set to return land to white farmers after $3.5 Billion compensation

The government of Zimbabwe has in recent times locked itself in a critical position by taking an unpopular move that’s generating a lot of criticisms from both locals and people across the world.

Ex-President Mugabe initiated the lands reform program decades ago to address issues surrounding the forceful colonial-era land captures by the powers in Zimbabwe; the initiative saw the seizure of lands from white farmers and the resettlement of black farmers in the country. This attracted series of sanctions from the many western countries thus crippled the economy of Zimbabwe.

However, the current administration is taking measures to an extent, reverse this policy. Initially, the government was gravely criticized over the decision to compensate white farmers with a sum total of $3.5 Billion for the value they have added to the lands that were retrieved from them during the implementation of the reform program under the Mugabe’s regime.

The current development is the government’s decision to return lands to foreign farmers protected under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs), signed between Zimbabwe and their ancestral countries. The announcement which was made on Monday indicated that white farmers who lost their farms under the country’s ex-president Mugabe can now apply to retrieve them.

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In a joint statement, the Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka revealed that Government would “revoke the offer letters of resettled [Black] farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere”, the statement said.

They further added that “Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available.”

A spokesperson of the government, Nick Mangwana clarified that the planned restitution will not cover all the white farmers. “Some of the previous owners had already been compensated from the previous government. For example, the Dutch farmers were being paid over the years. They may get that land or replacement land elsewhere instead of compensation.”  He said on Twitter.

The decision however divided public opinion; to some Zimbabweans, it is unfair to compensate the white farmers, talk less of the thought of retrieving lands from the locals and giving such to foreigners looking at the fact that, black farmers were not compensated when the lands were grabbed during colonialism. The other divide of the opinion pool posited that the government is implementing these measures to mend relationships with the West and get the sanctions reversed. What do you think of this development?

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