18 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Compensation for Seized Land 'An Urgent Issue', Germany Tells Zimbabwe

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe
A Tobacco farm in Zimbabwe.

Germany has reportedly demanded compensation for land seized from its citizens during Zimbabwe's controversial land reforms, saying this was "an urgent and important issue".

According to New Zimbabwe.com, Germany's ambassador to Zimbabwe Thorsten Hutter maintained that the issue of compensation was part of the re-engagement dialogue between the southern African country and the European Union.

Hutter said this following a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda.

"We have a number of German nationals who invested here in Zimbabwe after independence who are not here anymore... I did not discuss the issue [compensation] with the Speaker of Parliament today but what I can say is that this issue is important," Hutter was quoted as saying.

Reports in 2016 indicated that Zimbabwe had plans to compensate white farmers for their lost land and that the government had begun evaluating the properties.

Landless blacks

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted at the time as saying: "It [compensation] is under our constitution, this is an obligation under our constitution as far as I am concerned."

Of late, Chinamasa has been in the media saying that the country's efforts to fulfil the obligation were being hampered by lack of funds.

President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

At the time, Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.

At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.

The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle.

Critics of the reforms blamed the programme for low production on the farms, as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.

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