ICYMI- Transcript of Mnangagwa’s 15-page interview with the Financial Times


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Q: You mentioned the possible Commonwealth observer mission. Are you going to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth?

A: It’s not my priority but I believe that when we shall have interaction with the British — because when I had the envoy from Prime Minister — is it May, Theresa May? — they raised that issue. When we have engagement they want to raise the issue about us joining the Commonwealth. I said I’ll be happy to deal with that. At the time of that envoy I had just been inaugurated and didn’t even have a cabinet. I can’t make a sole decision on my own but I believe after the AU (African Union) in February or thereabouts we should be having direct discussions with the UK and that issue will arise. I personally have nothing against the Commonwealth club so we will discuss that issue when we come to meeting the British. I personally have no hard feelings against the . . . because the issue on which we differed is behind us. We had differed with the Commonwealth on the land reform programme. That is behind us. I don’t see what difference [?] us any more now.

Q: You’ve talked about possible compensation for people who had to leave their farms. How is this going to be funded?

A: That is an ongoing exercise. In terms of our law we are obligated to compensate any developments on land which was compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme. And some farmers have been already compensated but the large number of them have not and we are continuously raising funds on the fiscus for that compensation, although the persons affected are not too happy because the pressure’s very strong. So I have promised that I will not breach that commitment by government; we shall continue to honour the compensation on the improvements on land as a result of the land reform programme, yes.

Q: If you are to attract the foreign investors that, most people would agree, Zimbabwe’s economy needs, title and property rights are incredibly important. This is the big thing on the minds of would-be investors. How will you reassure them?

A: To the extent that we honour property rights in relation to land, we’ve introduced the 99-year lease tenure. We don’t have freehold any more, although we still have people holding freehold land but we have now legislated for 99-year leases which are transferable. This is where we’re going and we don’t see a person getting worried, being granted a 99-year lease; very few people live beyond 99 years but if they do they can always renew. That is with regard to agricultural land. Of course our land has different categories. The communal lands which have [unclear] people on them; there is no limit, it is a freehold. But agricultural land is a 99-year lease, yes.

Q: The economy is in a fragile state.

A: Absolutely.

Continued next page

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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