The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT and representatives of white former commercial farmers whose land was appropriated during the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme last week sealed a US$3,5 billion compensation deal, effectively putting to rest the land question after two decades of acrimony. Under the Global Compensation Deed (GCD), around 4 000 white commercial farmers will now receive compensation for improvements made on the farms. Valuation and compensation technical assistance of this historic deal was provided by the World Bank through Dr Maxwell Mutema, who was seconded to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The All Stakeholders Consultative Workshop convened on March 31, 2016 was also supported by the European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international development partners. President Mnangagwa last week described the deal as a “milestone” that demonstrates the Second Republic’s commitment to re-engagement and constitutionalism.Our Senior Reporter, Lincoln Towindo (LT), spoke to Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Andrew Pascoe (AP), who said the agreement will put an end to disagreements between Government and the former farmers.
LT: Can you outline the significance of the conclusion of the Global Compensation Deed?
AP: After almost 20 years of conflict, representatives of the farmers who lost their land during the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme and representatives of the Government of Zimbabwe have at last been able to come together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and a shared desire to see a resolution of this conflict and negotiate an agreement which provides a framework for the payment of the compensation due, according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to those whose farms were acquired.
To me this is nothing short of a miracle, and whilst the road to the final payment of this compensation may be challenging and have many hurdles along the way, I am convinced that if we as Zimbabweans continue to work together in the same spirit of unity and co-operation, we will be successful.
I am also convinced that not only will the payment of this compensation bring an end to the conflict that has severely impacted all of our lives, but it will send a clear and unambiguous message both to local and foreign investors that Zimbabwe is really and truly “Open for Business” and this will result in huge benefits for all of us who call Zimbabwe home.
LT: Take us through the process leading up to the deal from the time it was first mooted?
AP: The process started as a direct result of the commitment to settle the outstanding issue of compensation due to the farmers whose farms were acquired during the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme, which was made by His Excellency President Mnangagwa on his inauguration in 2017. Under the 2013 Constitution, Government is obligated to pay compensation for improvements only, on the acquired farms.
The first and longest step involved the valuation process, which was aided by regional independent valuers and was completed in early 2020. The value of improvements on acquired farms was determined to be US$5,2 billion. Once this figure was determined, negotiations began on the compensation amount.
Farmer representatives recognised that given the state of the economy, it was going to be difficult for Government to raise the funds to pay the full value of the improvements and as a result and through a negotiation process, accepted a compensation amount of US$3,5 billion. The terms of the agreement, including the timeline of the payments, were then negotiated and a final agreement reached early in July 2020.
LT: What are the key features of the deal?
AP: Fifty percent of the total amount is to be paid 12 months after signing the agreement with the balance paid in equal annual instalments over the next four years.
LT: Is there scope for funding support for Government from aid partners in order to make sure that compensation becomes a reality?
AP: Under the agreement, a Joint Resource Mobilisation Committee consisting of farmer and Government representatives will be set up to mobilise funding to pay the compensation. It is anticipated that part of this process will be the drawing up of a “road map” that will lead to the recovery of commercial agriculture and the economy as a whole.
This will transform Zimbabwe into a good destination for investment capital which will help ensure that compensation becomes a reality.