White Zim farmers accept R238m interim payment for land compensation

Former white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe who had their land expropriated under the fast track land reform programme in the early 2000's have accepted government's offer of an interim payment of RTGS$53m (R238m at current exchange rates).

In 2000 Zimbabwe expropriated land from white commercial farmers without compensation and distributed it to landless black people and the connected elite, who now own multiple farms.

The country budgeted RTGS$53m in its 2019 national budget as compensation to the former farmers, and the offer has now been accepted by a union representing them. The compensation is for farm improvements. 

Zimbabwe introduced a new currency called the RTGS$, or real-time gross settlement dollar, in February. One RTGS$ can buy R4.50, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Monday morning. 

In a statement the Commercial Farmers Union said they had to accept the advanced interim payment as some farmers were in financial distress.

"As this is a limited fund, it is hoped that those who are not in financial distress do not take it up so as to maximise the effect on others not so fortunate."

The total bill could run into billions and the Zimbabwean government is working with international financial institutions on how best to fund the compensation.

In its own statement on the issue, which was released over the weekend, the Zimbabwean government said by end of April 2019 the registration papers for beneficiary farmers would be complete and disbursements will commence.

Valuations for farm improvements are also expected to be completed by end of May 2019, reads the statement.

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