Thursday 3 September 2020


ZANU-PF has conceded that it erred by engaging in the "chaotic" land reform exercise in 2000 where it parcelled out commercial land to its supporters without following procedure.

The ruling party yesterday said this had prompted the process of compensating farmers who were kicked off their farms.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, acting party spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa conceded that the land reform programme was chaotic, saying the move to compensate the farmers was a constitutional requirement of righting the wrong.

"Pajambanja ipapo, takaita zvainge zvisingafaniri kuti tiite (we did something that we were not supposed to do during the chaotic land redistribution exercise)," Chinamasa said.

"We took land from those who had bought their own land and settled our people.

"The people are still there, but the Constitution says if there is such an issue, we compensate for the land and the improvements. If the previous owner then says he wants the land back, not money, we will give him back the land which we took and gave to A2 farmers."

At the turn of the millennium, Zanu-PF led a chaotic land reform programme which the late former President Robert Mugabe said was meant to address colonial land imbalances.

The land reform programme saw over 4 000 white commercial farmers being displaced.

Some black farmers and those whose land was protected under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) were also evicted.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government on Monday announced that government would compensate black farmers who lost their land during the land reform exercise .

Farmers whose land was protected under the BIPPAs will also be compensated.

Both can choose to reapply to go back on their previously owned land, a move that will likely trigger mass displacements of some of the beneficiaries of the land reform programme, the majority of them combatants of the 1970s liberation war.

The new order came after Mnangagwa, on July 20, signed a pact to compensate white former commercial farmers for the improvements they made on the farms they were displaced from.

Mnangagwa's latest decision caused anxiety among even his followers in the ruling party, with most, particularly war veterans, accusing him of trying to reverse the land reform programme.

In his Press briefing, Chinamasa said: "Where we settled our people on land previously owned by a black indigenous Zimbabwean and the land was parcelled out into A2 or A1 farms, the Constitution obliges us to pay full compensation to that black person for land and any improvement on the farm.

"In the case where the land was not settled, but gazetted we are saying we restore to that person titles of the farm which we compulsorily acquired through the jambanja process. We restore it to that black person. That must be made very clear.

"On the land that fell under BIPPA, the Constitution is very clear also because under BIPPA we were under obligation to pay compensation for both land and improvements and our Constitution providees exactly for that.
"If any land under BIPPA was affected by jambanja and we settled our people, we are obliged to pay compensation for both land and improvements."

Chinamasa said for the land seized from white former commercial farmers, the government was only obliged to pay for improvements and not the land.

He added that the announcement by government to compensate the former farmers had caused confusion in and outside the party.

"The party has noted that the contents of that statement, ( jointly issued by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka), has caused confusion among our people on the policy of Zanu-PF regarding the land question," Chinamasa said.

He said the MDC Alliance and its allies should not lecture Zanu-PF on the land redistribution exercise, in apparent reference to opposition party vice-president Tendai Biti who has described the move as reversing the land reform programme.

"We will never allow anyone to lecture us. We have never taken an inch of any soil anywhere in the world. There was a moment we had to take a step back in order to take two steps forward and we will not allow them to lecture us on these things."

Chinamasa said the government took the decision to grab land from the white former commercial farmers after the United Kingdom, through then Prime Minister Tony Blair, refused to pay compensation to the affected farmers as previously agreed.

He accused Blair and the Westminster Foundation of financing the opposition MDC, hence the decision to engage in the land grab.

"Zanu-PF is gravely concerned at the emerging trends over land that was acquired and distributed under the land reform programme. Of particular interest is the tendency by the beneficiaries of A2 farms to lease out those farms in return for rent," Chinamasa said.

Meanwhile, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was yesterday also grilled in the National Assembly by Biti over the land issue .

"The Constitution is very clear in section 295(4) that compensation can only be payable if there is an Act of Parliament," Biti said.

"So on what legal basis was that agreement executed when there is no Act of Parliament to define the agreement and the methods of payment, as well as the implications of that on the Consolidated Revenue Fund because it was approved outside Parliament?"

But Ziyambi denied that the government was reversing the land reform programme.

He said the Constitution stipulated that there be compensation for both land and improvements on the farms.

"It is not true that we need an Act of Parliament to do that because we have the Land Acquisition Act, which has provisions for that. In any case, if we decide to use taxpayers' money, then the appropriation will be approved by Parliament," Ziyambi said.

Biti insisted that taking land from resettled black people was a reversal of the land reform programme.

Magwegwe legislator Anele Ndebele (MDC Alliance) asked Ziyambi to make the land audit results public to bring closure to the land issue, to which the Justice minister said that would be done. Newsday


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