Harare — THE cash-strapped Zimbabwean government is compensating white commercial farmers that lost their farms during the violent land seizures since 2000.
The compensation to the 4 000 farmers is a bid by the government to secure elusive funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
Representatives of the disposed farmers said their clients were set to receive US$55 000 each (about R817 300) restitution for land developments.
This past week the Zimbabwe government confirmed the release of $22 million (R326,3 million) to the former commercial farmers as part of compensation for infrastructure developments on farms compulsorily acquired by the government during the disorderly land reform programme.
To date, the Ministry of Finance has disbursed $55 000 each to 900 farmers.
Ben Gilpin, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) director, confirmed the development.
He said priority had been given to elderly farmers.
"This is because there are many elderly ex-farmers who are struggling financially," Gilpin explained.
"The reality is that the average age of farmers, at the time of their evictions, was around 55. Now, almost 20 years on, many are in their late 70s or older and are not able to work."
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently insisted the farmers would not get their properties back as the land reform exercise was irreversible.
Instead, he said the government was willing to compensate affected individuals.
Mnangagwa's predecessor, Robert Mugabe (now late), sanctioned the violent seizures of the farms by veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle and ruling party youths.
Most of the land ended up in the hands of government ministers and government loyalists.
Critics blamed the recurrent food shortages and the collapse of the economy on the chaotic exercise.