Zimbabwe signs US$3.5 bn compensation deal with white farmers

Zimbabwe’s government signed a US$3.5 billion compensation agreement with white farmers whose land was seized over 20 years ago under the country’s controversial reforms.

However, the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long-term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

“In the agreement we have given ourselves 12 months to run around the world, around Zimbabwe to think of ways of raising this funding,”

“We are determined that we achieve that. It’s also about pledges not necessarily about cash being put on the table. It’s about commitment.”

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said at the signing ceremony in Harare.

Zimbabwe launched controversial land reforms in the year 2000 when ruling ZANU-PF party activists and veterans of the 1970s liberation seized large swathes of farms and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,”

said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers’ Union representing white farmers.

Economic output fell by half following the land seizures, and the  economy has been hobbled ever since the government began the land reforms .

With shortages of currency, fuel and food, more than 90% of the population out of formal employment and and incurred sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union.

Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Wednesday deal was “historic in many respects”.

“It brings closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in Zimbabwe,”

said Mnangagwa .

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people.