Some of the former white farmers who were forcefully evicted during the early 2000 land reform program that was undertaken with auspice from the former late president Robert Mugabe, have rejected the US3.5 billion dollars compensation that was signed by the finance minister and farmer representative unions.
The snub was largely driven by irregularities surrounding the compensation agreement, which encompass massive pressure from the government to approve the compensation agreement within a short space of time to deliberate, this was revealed by Mike Campbell a representative of evicted farmers in a statement.
“Mnangagwa’s government placed the farming organisations under considerable pressure to sign the agreement within a very short time frame stating it was their last chance to receive a compensation offer from the government,” said hunter.
Farmers representative’s unions said to be placed under pressure to consent to the agreement includes, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance-Zimbabwe (SACFA-Z) and the Valuation Consortium.
When the farmers were forcefully evicted, they approached the SADC tribunal, which ruled that the eviction undermined the rule of law and farmers must be compensated.
The spokesperson of SADC Tribunal Rights Watch who represented farmers at the tribunal Ben Freeth, responded to the compensation agreement through a statement in which he highlighted that white farmers that consented to the compensation agreement were gullible in agreeing due to their dire financial situation and well-being.
“A significant number of dispossessed farmers, many of them in dire straits financially, as well as being elderly and in poor health, signed up, despite only seeing a draft agreement as the final document was withheld,” said freeth.
“As SADC Tribunal Rights Watch (SADC-TRW), we wish to distance ourselves from the global compensation agreement that the CFU, SACFA-Z and the Valuation Consortium were under extreme pressure to sign, within a minimal timeframe,” added Freeth.
Freeth further noted that despite the signing of the agreement, chances are slim that the government will be in a position to honor the signed compensation agreement due to the dire Zimbabwean economic status.
“The reality is that the government is broke and although the parties have agreed to a sum of US$3,5 billion, there is no money available or pledged, and the farming organisations are expected to work with the government to raise it internationally,” noted freeth.
At the signing ceremony president mnangagwa noted that the compensation is for the equipment and developments that had been made at the farms before eviction and not the land. More so at the ceremony Finance minister Mthuli Ncube noted that the government does not have the compensation money but it will run around to look for the funds as the payment will be made in installments for at least five years.
When the government signed the agreement with former white farmers representative unions, the government faced a backlash from some of the citizens, as they noted that compensating former white farmers, is a direct betrayal and reversal of the gains of the war of liberation from the former white colonial settlers, who had forcefully occupied Zimbabwe in which a plethora of Zimbabwean and other African fighters lost their lives.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent