Zimbabwe government at the State House office in Harare on Wednesday, signed a deal that will pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers whose lands were forcefully seized by Robert Mugabe 20 years ago to resettle black families.
Mugabe who was ousted in 2017 embarked on a controversial land reform in 2000, which saw over 4,000 farms seized from about 4,500 white farmers. According to reports, the seized farmlands were used to resettle about 300,000 families.
The deal which was agreed on Wednesday is aimed at paying compensation for the infrastructure on the farms and not for the land itself according to Zimbabwe national constitution.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the agreement is “historic in many respects”. “It brings closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
According to the deal, 50% of the agreed compensation would be paid after a year while the remaining 50% would be paid within five years period. Although the deal says it would prioritize the elderly in the payment process, the details of how much each farmer or their descendants would receive is not yet available.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe has been worsening in recent years. The government cannot finance the $3.5 billion agreement, thus farmers and donors has been given the task of raising the money. This is coming at the time inflation is soaring with 7.7 million Zimbabweans food-insecure, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
At the signing ceremony in Harare Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said, “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 and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed the deal on behalf of the government.