'Injustices were done to white farmers': Zim agriculture minister

Zimbabwe’s new agriculture minister says the authorities want to address “injustices” committed during land reforms – and the main white farmers’ union says it wants to work with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

In a speech read on his behalf at the 75th Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) annual congress in Harare last week, Perrance Shiri said: "Our government is firmly committed to a process of the need for corrective measures to deal with the consequences of past injustices."

But in a sign there’ll be no U-turn in land policy, Shiri (who’s the former head of the Zimbabwe airforce) said it was important not to create “new injustices”, according to the state-run Sunday Mail

Legitimate demand for justice

“Our policy acknowledges the property rights of existing land owners. It also recognises the legitimate demand for justice from those who have been dispossessed or excluded,” he said.

Around 300 white farmers out of 4 000 are still on their farms. A number of dispossessed farmers or their children also rent farms from new black owners.

Meantime CFU President Peter Van Zyl said white farmers wanted to be “part of the new Zimbabwe”, the Sunday Mail reported.

Compensation bill 'runs into billions'

“We want to assist in a process that creates space for all who want to be involved in agriculture and that simultaneously sees all resettled farmers transitioning from being dependent on the State, to being the pillars of the country’s recovery through a transfer of skills,” Van Zyl said.

There has been an acknowledgement by Mnangagwa’s government that compensation must be paid – though the bill will run into billions of US dollars, according a report in the private Financial Gazette.

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