National News

Govt gets funding for former farmers

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The government is confident it will honour its promise to pay US$3.5bn to former commercial white farmers for assets expropriated by the State during the land reform programme after some financiers have come on board, Business Times can report.

At least 4 000 white farmers were forcibly evicted from farms during the land redistribution programme in the early 2000s.

Of that amount, the government is supposed to pay US$1.75bn at the end of this month while the balance would be paid in installments of US$437.5m per year for the next four years.

“There are some other players that are coming on board to help us compensate the farmers and there are other bonds that we are processing to raise money to pay out farmers,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade deputy minister David Musabayana told Business Times.

“We have started paying off the distressed farmers like the elderly and the sick and there are some budgets that were approved towards the payments of farmers.”

The government last year paid US$1m to former commercial farmers but analysts described the amount as too little considering that a total of US$3.5bn should be paid within the next four years.

Commercial Farmers Union president Andrew Pascoe said the engagements were ongoing with a result expected in a fortnight’s time.

“We are carrying out a number of meetings with the government to map the way forward but so far nothing concrete has been agreed upon. We are yet to reach any agreements and we will go back to our members after a week or two,” Pascoe said.

Analysts said the US$1.75bn is likely not going to be paid by the end of this month with the government grappling to arrest rampant inflation and stabilise the volatile exchange rate.

The compensation is for value of improvements, biological assets and land clearing costs for the land which was compulsorily acquired for resettlement.

Analysts said with the country reeling in debts and failing to attract fresh credit lines in two decades such failure will compound misery to the ailing economy.

Efforts to get a comment from Finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, and permanent secretary, George Guvamatanga, were futile.

Experts say the offer is critically important as it marked an important step to end Zimbabwe’s costly two-decade isolation by powerful western nations that imposed economic sanctions on the country after the land reform programme.

Honouring the deal could see them lifting the sanctions on the southern African country, which was once the bread basket of the region, analysts say.

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