Zimbabwe Unable to Pay Billions to Former White Commercial Farmers - Offers Land Instead

President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).

Hardly a month after pledging to pay former white commercial farmers US$3.5-billion compensation for land improvements done before farm seizures in the 2000s under the late President Robert Mugabe, authorities in the troubled southern African state are now offering land in lieu of the reparations.

The Zimbabwe government has offered long-term bonds to help raise the money and also "anticipate donor funding" to fulfil this mammoth sovereign debt amid a crippling economic crisis, alleged human rights abuses and a highly polarised political space.

At the centre of this thorny subject is Zimbabwe's 2013 constitution which provides for two types of farmers that can be compensated for both land and improvements on farms. The farmers include, "indigenous" Zimbabweans, or black farmers and farmers whose land was protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs).

BIPPAs are agreements between countries designed to protect the investments of foreign citizens. Zimbabwe has 12 such agreements with countries such as South Africa, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland, among others.

The government of Zimbabwe extended the offer to compensate using land only to these two groups of farmers thereby leaving out local white farmers because they are covered by the US$3.5-billion compensation deal...

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