Zimbabwe : Politics, constitutionalism of compensation

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa. Photo : Media

Johannesburg, South Africa (ADV) – Zimbabwean government has said there is a method and law to the country’s policy of compensating white former commercial farmers for improvements on the land, steeped in the Constitution and the Second Republic’s ethos, The Herald reported.

This comes after South African politician Julius Malema and some opposition fanatics in the country criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s stance of compensating white former farmers for the developments they made on the farms that were compulsorily acquired under the Land Reform Programme.

However, legal and political commentators said Zimbabwe, being a nation founded on the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, should be commended for its decision to compensate the former occupants of the land.

The Government committed to compensating former farm owners in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and allocated US$53 million for the process in this year’s Budget.

TSP outlines steps to be taken to compensate white former farmers: “The New Dispensation has taken the decision to finalise compensation to all former farmers affected by the land reform programme, in accordance with the country’s Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under bilateral agreements.

A working group, comprising Government officials and representatives of former farm owners, is working towards providing a Consensus-Based Compensation Framework for evaluating obligations to such former farmers.

The work of the Working Group will be expedited to enable Government and former farm owners, in conjunction with cooperating partners, to progress towards closure of the land issue.”

Commentators dismissed as baseless media statements by Malema labelling the President a “sell-out” for acting in terms of the law.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Malema was misinformed.

“The Chimurenga II Revolution was non-racial by nature,” said Mutsvangwa.

“This is a cardinal tenet even as it militarily confronted white minority racist and colonial rule. Regrettably and sadly, EFF leader (Mr Julius) Malema is hopelessly misinformed. Compensation for valuable assets built or installed on pieces of land is right and proper. It is distinct from non-compensation for the actual land which is a historical birth right of Zimbabwe’s majority black population. The land was reclaimed through blood sacrifice from the manacles of foreign conquerors.”

She said contrary to misconception, no new African farmers that were resettled during the historic land reform have been evicted to enable restoration to former land owners.

“The compensation will work towards a most harmonious society where we work all as a unity…no lethargy or let back stemming from past grievances. This gesture will earn goodwill from those nations who see inclusion and fairness in a Zimbabwe that respects that which is just in economic investment,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said President Mnangagwa should be lauded for efforts to compensate the farmers.

“President Mnangagwa must be lauded for swiftly and boldly addressing the residual rancour’s that might still be lurking in our social fabric

“This compensation step is a shot in the arm for the Zimbabwe Is Open for Business mantra. Contrary to the prejudices of Mr Malema, this will lead to economic growth and greater prosperity regardless of race, colour, creed, religion or gender.

“It is all for the harmonious unity of Zimbabwe together as one,” she said.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Ambassador Simon Khaya-Moyo said Malema was ignorant of the history of Zimbabwe.

“Mr Malema demonstrated with malignant ignorance, his incapacity to comprehend the history of our land programme, let alone on that of our liberation struggle.

“He might need to come over for a proper lecture on this subject before opening his foul mouth,” he said.

Khaya-Moyo said the compensation issue dates back to the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 when the British and American governments undertook to compensate the white farmers, but later on reneged on it.

“When we concluded the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979, the British Conservative Government led by Mrs Margaret Thatcher undertook with their American friends to compensate the white farmers for the land needed for resettlement of the black majority.

“When the Labour government led by Tony Blair took over, the agreement was overturned. Tony Blair and his Government reneged on the Lancaster House Agreement, particularly on the land compensation issue,” said Khaya-Moyo.

Zimbabwe later introduced laws aimed at compensating white farmers for improvements made on the land acquired for resettlement.

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