The Herald (Harare)

7 December 2012

Zimbabwe: 210 White Farmers Refuse to Vacate Gazetted Land

Gweru — A TOTAL of 210 white commercial farmers are under prosecution throughout the country for refusing to vacate farms gazetted for redistribution to landless Zimbabweans.

According to a Central Committee report tabled before the Zanu-PF 13th Annual National People's Conference and adopted here, this is despite the fact that the farmers were given time to wind their operations.

This is happening at a time when some Western countries are trying to frustrate the historic land reform programme by launching million dollar lawsuits in international courts.

"A total of 210 white former farmers are under prosecution for failure to vacate gazetted land after the expiry date as required by the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act . . . The majority if not all of the former farm owners who refuse to vacate gazetted properties were given time to wind up business and harvest their crops previously," the report said.

It revealed that some of the farmers were citing support from some Zanu-PF members for refusing to vacate the farms. There are 198 white owned farms that have not been gazetted. In Manicaland province the properties are mainly holiday homes. The report noted that deliberations on holiday homes by Cabinet were yet to be finalised. Government this year gazetted 3 050 hectares for rural resettlement and urban expansion.

The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has submitted a framework for farm assessments for productivity and land utilisation to Cabinet and US$30 million is required to carry out the exercise.

"No indications have been received from treasury as to the availability of funds for this exercise which we envisage to cover old resettlement schemes, model A1, A2 farms," the report notes.

The Central Committee report noted that some Western farmers successfully sued Government after it gazetted their farms for resettlement but there was no money to pay them compensation.

"The Dutch farmers who took the country to the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes and won have not been paid. In addition, a Germany family, the Von Pezolds, has also taken us to the ISCID for their farms (Forester Estates and Border Timbers properties) which we acquired and partly resettled. We are framing our defence with the Attorney General's Office. The Von Pezolds claim is in the region of US$600 million."

The report by the Central Committee observed that some farms covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements were acquired for resettlement. The countries under the Bippas are Denmark, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands and Switzerland. Out of 153 farms, 116 were settled by 4 179 families under model A1 and A2 leaving 37 unsettled.

"The agreements require that Government pays fair compensation in currency of former owner's choice for both land and improvements for acquired Bippa farms. In this regard, Government has an outstanding payment of 16 million Euros awarded to Dutch farmers by the ICSID."

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