Zimbabwe will soon be on the market seeking financial advisors to assist in finding ways to mobilise the US$3.5 billion required to compensate white former farmers for improvements they made on land that it compulsorily acquired for redistribution, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said today.
At the turn of the century Zimbabwe implemented agrarian reforms that saw minority white farmers lose vast tracts of prime agricultural land which were re-distributed to over 400 000 landless blacks.
And the government, after years of negotiations, agreed to compensate the white former commercial farmers for improvements they made on the land but not for the land, which remains the property of the state.
In line with the agreement, a Global Compensation Deed worth US$3.5 billion was signed with representatives of the white former farmers on July 29 this year.
Ncube said moves were already underway to recruit financial advisors who will assist in mobilising the funding.
“We will soon be issuing an expression of interest statement locally and internationally for any potential advisors out there to express their interest and then we move to the short-listing stage and then eventually appoint an advisor to help us raise this funding from both the domestic market and international market,” Ncube said.
The government has a one year deadline to raise at least US$1.75 billion for the exercise.
A 30-year debt instrument and possible listing on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange are among proposals so far on the table to mobilise the funds.
Ncube said white former farmers were free to apply for 99 year leases so that they continue staying on the farms and producing.
“Former farm owners on compulsorily acquired land should urgently regularise their tenure through designated Government institutions in the first instance, before consideration can be made for the issuance of 99-year Leases. Former farm owners who already hold Offer Letters may proceed to apply for 99-Year Leases,” he said.
Recently appointed Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said the settlement “allows us to move into production and productivity to ensure that Zimbabwe moves out of its food insecurity situation to a more assured and insured food security for the nation which we desperately need”.
A representative of the white former farmers, Nick Swanepoel said they were ready and were committed to produce food for the country.
“I do not think any of us as farmers are proud that we have to import food into this country from South Africa or anywhere else. We have to get agriculture back to what it was so we can be proud of it,” he said.-New Ziana