White farmers sceptical over ‘payout’

Harare -Zimbabwe’s evicted white commercial farmers are not expecting any “real” compensation following an announcement from the government last week that so-called ‘new’ black farmers could start paying rent for land they were given.

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Farmer

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Some of this rent money would go to white farmers who were dispossessed, but they say it would be too small to be taken seriously.

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Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora told the state controlled daily, The Herald, last week that the cabinet had approved a rental scheme for farmers who were beneficiaries of white-owned land since 2000.

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Mombeshora said that the new black commercial farmers and all those who now own wildlife conservancies would be expected to pay about R60 per hectare per year to the government for land they now occupy.

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The state owns all land taken from white farmers.

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Without specifying percentages, Mombeshora said some of the rentals collected would go towards paying compensation to evicted farmers.

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But the Commercial Farmers’ Union said yesterday that the rentals quoted by Mombeshora must be seen as “token” payments, and would not dent any compensation bill.

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‘In the last 15 years the government has made no effort to pay compensation,” said CFU director Hendrik Viljoen.

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“We don’t know much about what has been decided beyond what we read in the press, but the rentals quoted to us only represent a token payment. It would be good to be able to sit down with the government and have a serious conversation about compensation.”

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He also said many new farmers, especially small-scale operators, would not be able to afford to pay any rent.

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More than 4000 or 90 percent of evicted white farmers paid for professional evaluation of their lost properties.

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The Valuation Consortium in Harare, which is also funded by the World Bank, has developed a comprehensive database of seized farms.

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The Consortium says it is independent and does not involve itself with any claims on criminal or human rights issues.

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“The aim is to facilitate and accelerate the compensation process,” it says on its website.