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Zimbabwe to Expedite Almost $10 Million of Compensation Payments for White Farmers Whose Land Was Forcibly Taken

The government of Zimbabwe is offering white farmers who were forcibly removed from their land between 2000 and 2001 a settlement higher than $9.9 million USD ($3.5 billion ZWD).

The government also agreed to make the payment in 10 years rather than the previously agreed upon 20.

“We are moving toward the quick payment of former farm owners as most of them are not young,” Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told reporters on Feb. 23. “We are now front-loading the payments.”

The government had agreed in 2020 that, while it would not return the land to them, it would pay the farmers nearly $10 million USD as restitution. The Zimbabwe government subsequently missed several payment deadlines.

About 4,000 white farmers — largely of Dutch, British, and German descent — were required to give up their farms as part of former President Robert Mugabe’s land reform program. Mugabe wanted the land to be distributed among roughly one million black citizens to correct “colonial-era land grabs,” per the BBC. Mugabe’s government also said the land reform policy would promote democracy and help the economy. 

The United States and other Western countries sanctioned Zimbabwe in response to the program. The U.S. has required the government to compensate the farmer in order to have the sanctions terminated. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor, tweeted in 2021 the turmoil at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is proof that “the U.S. has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy.”

He also criticized President Donald Trump, who Mnangagwa said “extended painful economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe, citing concerns about Zimbabwe’s democracy.”

According to a July 31, 2019 article from Foreign Policy:

Since assuming power, Mnangagwa’s administration has made a number of changes around land ownership, marking a departure from the tough, unyielding, and anti-white stance that characterized land reform under Mugabe. White Farmers can now survive on the land as long as they farm for export.

Mnangagwa has publicly said white farmers are free to apply for land because landholding was no longer based on a person’s skin color but on one’s ability to produce.

….Other changes include the extension of 99-year land leases to white commercial farmers, a benefit that was previously the preserve of black farmers. During Mugabe’s time, white farmers were given only five-year leases. (Farmland in Zimbabwe remains state property, and farmers rent the land.)

White farmers originally asked for $11.4 billion ZWD in compensation, a number they said reflected the value of the land that had been taken from them.

Under the deal’s latest terms, “the compensation will be financed through a Treasury bond, which will have prescribed-asset status and not be liable to any form of taxation as a way to entice investors,” reports Bloomberg. “Farmers will hold a referendum on the matter soon and the bond will be issued once outstanding details are finalized.”

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