Dutch farmers demand €23m from Zim

2012-10-03 12:57
Zimbabwe’s finance minister Tendai Biti. (File, AFP)

Zimbabwe’s finance minister Tendai Biti. (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - Dutch farmers who were forced off their land in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2002 when the country embarked on its controversial land reform programme, have launched a campaign to force the government to pay them compensation.

Radio Netherlands reported on Wednesday that the farmers took their case to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a Washington-based court which operates under the aegis of the World Bank.

The ICSID ruled in their favour in 2009 and ordered Zimbabwe to pay them €8.8m compensation, to be increased by 10% for each year since the land grab.

According to the report, the group is now entitled to a sum of more than €23m and the Dutch government has been pressuring Zimbabwe over the past two years to fulfil its international obligations. A special envoy was appointed in 2010 to negotiate with Zimbabwean officials.

Earlier this year, Zimbabwe finance minister Tendai Biti promised to put forward a payment proposal but to date, he has not honoured this promise, despite being asked to do so in a letter from the Dutch foreign minister in August.

"We wanted to take action earlier, but decided to wait for Biti's proposal," the group’s chairperson Lion Benjamins was quoted as saying. "But now we’re sick of waiting, so we have decided to take steps to show Zimbabwe we’re serious."

The group has launched a website and is lobbying European parliamentarians in an attempt to ensure the EU refuses to lift its sanctions on Zimbabwe until the compensation is paid.

The group is also active in Great Britain, lobbying the government to release frozen assets of the Robert Mugabe regime in order to pay the compensation.

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Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  tendai biti  |  netherlands  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe land reforms


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