Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo has said the removal of illegal sanctions by the West will increase investment in Zimbabwe and aid the implementation of land and security sector reforms.
Dr Moyo said in an opinion piece published by Foreign Policy magazine last week that President Mnangagwa’s administration had already started reforms in many areas.
“Lifting sanctions and increasing international investment will speed land and security sector reform and enhance the protection of human rights,” he said.
“Since the election of a new government for Zimbabwe one year ago, the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in which I serve, has begun reforming our land policies, changing laws, and commencing a new compensation initiative to address the injustices of the recent past.”
Dr Moyo said Government and white former commercial farmers were set to conclude negotiations on a final compensation figure for land improvements on acquired properties and payment mechanisms.
He said Government and the farmers conducted a parallel evaluation of how much was required in compensation and what remained was to come up with an agreed figure.
Dr Moyo was responding to issues raised by commentators regarding the compensation of the farmers.
“In parallel, the Government is completing a nationwide evaluation exercise in order to arrive at an overall compensation figure,” he said. “The farmers have already computed their own figure. What remains, therefore, is for the Government and the farmers to conclude ongoing negotiations to reach a final agreed compensation figure and payment mechanism.
“I am confident, given existing goodwill and the desire of all parties to resolve the issue of compensation, that we will soon be in a position to go public with an agreement.
“The issue of the land itself has been agreed and settled. For farms obtained under bilateral investment treaties, reimbursement shall be for both land and improvements to land. However, domestic deeds must be seen in a wider historical arc, one laden with colonial dispossession and racial subjugation. A select few held the finest farmland in Zimbabwe to the detriment of our society.”
Dr Moyo said white farmers were now eligible for 99-year leases on land as opposed to the previous limit of five-year leases.
He said Government had set aside $53 million in its 2019 national budget for a comprehensive payment process covering 4 500 farmers whose land was acquired under the fast track land reform programme.
Dr Moyo said there was need to address the land question permanently so that the country does not remain caught in the past.
“It is not a question of whether the current policies go far enough, but the speed of travel,” he said. “For instance, tenancies are not bankable, because they are not transferable in the event of a default.
“To rectify this, a revised leasehold has been agreed in principle with Government and the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe. Now, this must be ratified into law. At the same time, property rights are being strengthened through their enforcement, with a clampdown on illegal farm seizures.”