Zimbabwe compensating white farmers

Zimbabwe is compensating white farmers but it is paying them only for improvements and not for the land itself or for moveable property but there has been a slow take-up by the farmers themselves, says John Legat, chief executive of Imara Asset Management Zimbabwe, one of the leading pension fund and private client asset managers in Zimbabwe.

Legat, however, says though the scheme has been on since 2002, the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents mostly white farmers, has not publicly endorsed the scheme because it has been fighting for compensation for not just the improvements, but also for the land and loss of earnings.

Though there has been an outcry over the way the government took land from farmers, Legat says: “We suspect this (the CFU stance) to be unreasonable under the circumstances and would unlikely be considered by the donor nations.”

Legat says in his latest newsletter that a number of farmers took up the offer prior to hyperinflation. The scheme was suspended when the government and the farmers could no longer agree on the price since valuation was changing by the day.

The scheme was reintroduced after dollarization with the government allocating $4.4 million for this in its 2009 budget.

“By October 2010, over US$900 000 had been paid out by government largely due to the slow take-up of the offer by the farmers themselves. Since there was a short-fall in the 2009 budget, an additional $2.25 million was allocated for 2011, and a proposed $5 million for 2012 and $7 million for 2013,” Legat says.

To qualify for compensation a farmer must write to the valuation section of the Ministry of Lands inviting a valuation of the property concerned. The ministry requires a letter from the Ministry of Labour stating that all employees were properly compensated at the time of eviction. The farmer should also show that any bonds attached to the property have been cancelled. The Ministry of Lands then invites the farmer to compile a detailed and comprehensive schedule of improvements, without a valuation, on the farm at the date he vacated it.

“The valuation experts at the Ministry then compile a valuation report based on this information which is then reviewed by the National Agricultural Land Compensation Committee who will make a final recommendation to the Ministry of Lands. The farmer or beneficiary is then invited to discuss the offer of compensation which he or she is free to accept or reject. If the offer is accepted, then the Chief Valuation Officer invites the parties to lodge the farm’s Deed of Transfer with the Ministry. The offer clearly states that the valuation is for improvements only. The US dollar funds are then paid out by government to the farmer,” Legat says.

He says priority is given to farmers who are still resident in Zimbabwe especially elderly farmers. Funds are from the government and are in the national budget.

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