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Zimbabwe says foreign white farmers can apply to get back seized land

And will be offered land elsewhere if restitution proves impractical.
Image: Bloomberg

Foreign white farmers settled in Zimbabwe whose land was seized under Robert Mugabe can apply to get it back and will be offered land elsewhere if restitution proves impractical, the government said on Monday.

Last month, Zimbabwe agreed to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to local white farmers whose land was forcibly taken by the government to resettle Black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

Under Zimbabwean laws passed during a short period of opposition government but ignored by Mugabe, foreign white farmers protected by treaties between their governments and Zimbabwe should be compensated for both land and other assets.

In that regard, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in a joint statement that these farmers should apply for their land back.

That means, in some instances the government would “revoke the offer letters of resettled (Black) farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” the ministers said.

But removing the Black beneficiaries from the land could prove practically and politically difficult.

“Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available,” the statement said.

The ministers said other white farmers whose land had been earmarked for acquisition by the government but were still on the properties, can apply to lease the land for 99 years, just like their Black counterparts.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe, where the number of white farmers has dropped to just over 200 from 4 500 when land reforms began 20 years ago, according to the predominantly white commercial farmers union.

Opponents see the reforms as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself, but its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people.

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“foreign” white farmers??? What about the white farmers, born and raised in what was Rhodesia? The very people who created the farms and had them stolen. Generations of hardworking white Africans!
When will the world see that ALL lives matter?

Zim will pay for decades to come. Maybe centuries.

But at least they are free.

Why on earth would they do that? People have moved on a decade ago. Time that Zimbabweans learn to feed themselves.

You don’t want to be a professional farmer in a collectivist society. The investments required to build the infrastructure needed for profitable production will be lost at the whim of a populist leader. The entrepreneur may make a wonderful deal with one leader, only to be chased off the land by the next leader. A farmer can only invest in infrastructure if law and order protect property rights. Law and order are the first casualties of collectivist policies. The money invested in infrastructure and production is a “donation” to a socialist government.

The Zimbabwean government expropriated land in a crude, unsophisticated manner. The South African government expropriates land in a more sophisticated and indirect manner through various forms of taxes on capital, the costs of electricity, the expropriation of mineral and water rights, the security of tenure laws for farmworkers and BEE requirements. Socialist policies expose the local producer to the dumping of subsidised imports. They attack your profit margin from both sides. They force you to run faster and faster, only to stay at the same spot.

I am a 4th generation farmer in Africa, and I am moving out, for the reasons stated above. My family has been on the farm for one hundred years, contributing to society and producing food, but we are being penalised for contributing, so it is time to make alternative plans. Believe me, the alternatives are exciting and very profitable, but they are offshore, where property rights are respected.

@ Sensei, fully understand your sentiment, but very sad to hear. It is unfortunately these forced decisions that will lead this country not being able to feed itself in the not too distant future. Wish you good luck

Good For you Sensei, I wish you the best on your new endeavor.

Smartie and trader123, thank you. I am not planning to emigrate at this stage, but there are better, less risky opportunities for my family’s capital in other jurisdictions. I will be “farming” over the internet from now on I suppose. The trick is to teach the necessary skills to my children now, as my dad has taught me, and his dad taught him.

I wish you well, and I hope you guys also find many profitable opportunities.

End of comments.

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