Definitely not! That would be suicidal. But headlines like this: Zimbabwe to return land back to white former farmers, have been doing the rounds since Monday’s joint statement by the Minister of Lands Anxious Masuka and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
The headline gives the impression that all white former farmers who want their land back will get it, yet the agreement specifically states that those who will get their land back are “indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements or Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe.”
What figures are we talking about then?
According to NewZWire, figures show that 5 454 farms were taken over by the government but 4 676 were not covered by any bilateral treaty. That leaves 778 farms.
NewZWire says that in its manifesto for the 2013 elections, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front said 153 farms were protected by treaties and 116 of these had been acquired for resettlement.
Information Secretary Nick Mangwana says there are less than 37 farms affected by BIPPA and BITs.
NewZWire says the late Minister of Lands Perrance Shiri disclosed this year that 440 black-owned farms were affected by land reform. Of these farms, 350 were still held by previous owners while 90 had been resettled.
So how many farms are really going to be returned to their previous owners if they all want their farms back? Going by the NewZWire figures, it is only 206 out of 5 454.
Besides, the agreement clearly states that: “Where it is not possible or desirable for the State to restore the acquired land to its former owner or offer alternative land, the Government shall offer compensation to the former farm owner based on the same valuation methodology as was applied under the Global Compensation Deed.”
Could the panic be about former farmers still on the land who have been asked to stay? But they have already been on the land and some of them have offer letters.
Maybe there is something behind the lines hiding the reversal.
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