HARARE, March 10 (The Source) – Government intends to compensate farmers whose farms were compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme as the country seeks to restore confidence in the property sector and normalize ties with the international community, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
At the turn of the century, President Robert Mugabe’s government seized land from about 4,000 white farmers without compensation and gave it to thousands of blacks under a redistribution programme, which the veteran ruler says was meant to address colonial imbalances. Mugabe has insisted his government will only pay compensation for improvements on the farms and not the land itself.
But on Monday Chinamasa told an IMF mission visiting the country to review progress on the Staff Monitored Program (SMP) that although government did not have the money to reimburse the farmers, acknowledging the debt would restore confidence in the country. Compensation is estimated to run into billions of dollars, which the cash-strapped government doesn’t have.
“We have to confront our problems it is an imperative to build confidence, not just with the international community but among ourselves,” he said.
“I don’t have the money to meet that compensation but what I want to see happen is that there should be a determination of what we owe in terms of compensation and then a commitment from government.”
The oft-violent seizures of white-owned land as well as accusations of poll fraud and human rights abuses saw Mugabe falling out with the West, resulting in sanctions being slapped on his administration.
Relations with some western countries, particularly the European Union have thawed in recent times and the EU last November resumed direct aid to Harare after lifting restrictions.
In 2013, Zimbabwe also undertook to go through the IMF’s SMP to restore relations with multilateral financial institutions.
Under the current SMP, the policy reform agenda focuses on balancing the primary fiscal accounts, improving the investment climate, restoring confidence in Zimbabwe’s financial sector and garnering support for a strategy to clear arrears with multilateral institutions.