GOVERNMENT has started identifying and registering white former commercial farm owners who lost land during the country's agrarian reform to pave way for compensation after RTGS$53 million was set aside for the exercise, Cabinet ministers have said.
The compensation will be for improvements that were made on the land.
In a joint statement, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said under the new dispensation, Government is committed to paying compensation in accordance with the country's Constitution and Zimbabwe's obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
"In this regard, the Ad Hoc Compensation Working Group, comprising Government officials and representatives of former farm owners, is working towards the computation and establishing the compensation quantum figure for farm improvements based on an agreed method of valuation. Given the significant progress made to date, it is anticipated that this comprehensive farm improvements valuation exercise will be completed by the end of May 2019," said the ministers.
"The completion of the work of the Ad Hoc Compensation Working Group will enable Government and former farm owners, in conjunction with cooperating partners, to progress towards closure of the land issue"
They said the process to identify and register former farm owners who want to participate in the interim advance scheme is being coordinated by the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) and the Compensation Steering Committee (CSC) representing former farm owners.
The Cabinet ministers said the registration process and the list of farmers should be completed by the end of April this year.
"In the meantime, Government's accelerated farm valuation exercise for farm improvements is expected to be complete by end of this month. This will pave the way for both parties to reach an agreement on the compensation quantum figure for farm improvements by end of May 2019,"said the Cabinet ministers.
Government said the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement.
"Government will put in place institutional arrangements to expedite the disbursements for these interim advance payments and consultations on sustainable options for mobilising the requisite compensation resources are being explored in conjunction with the International Financial Institutions and other stakeholders," said the ministers.
Government has since directed that all remaining white commercial farmers be issued with 99-year leases, a marked policy shift from the previous arrangement where they could only get five-year leases.