No capacity to compensate displaced white farmers, says Zim

Mthuli Ncube (Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Russell Roberts)
Mthuli Ncube (Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Russell Roberts)

The Zimbabwean government is engaging international financial institutions and other stakeholders, hoping to mobilise resources to compensate displaced white farmers, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has said.

Ncube said the Southern African country’s government had decided to improve on compensation to all former farmers affected by the Land Reform Programme, in accordance with the country’s laws and commitments under the various bilateral agreements.

However, he said government did not have capacity to finance the former farm owners.

"Whilst work on the extent of government’s obligations is still to be finalised, the resources required to compensate and put closure to this important issue is obviously beyond the capacity of the budget to finance," said Minister Ncube.

The former farmers are reportedly owed some US$9bn in compensation for improvements made on the farms before the land reform exercise.

In this regard, said Minister Ncube, government is engaging international financial institutions and other stakeholders, exploring various sustainable options for gathering the required resources.

In a demonstration of government’s limited capacity, Minister Ncube said Treasury had put aside US$53m for the exercise.

"Given the limited fiscal space, the 2019 Budget makes provision of US$53m for payment of compensation to former farmers, to show commitment to this obligation," he said.

Another option which has been put on the table is to have beneficiaries of the controversial land reform programme to pay compensation to the displaced white farmers.

According to Lands and Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri, the state would not be burdened with paying compensation, as it was individual resettled farmers that benefited.

"It makes common sense that instead of labouring the tax payer, the person who is directly benefiting from those improvements contributes towards the compensation of the former farmers," he said.

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