White commercial farmers in Zimbabwe reportedly accepted the government’s offer of an interim payment of RTGS$53m (R238 million), reported EWN on Monday.
Zimbabwe’s ministries of finance and agriculture said: “The registration process and list of farmers should be completed by the end of April, after which the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners.”
White farmers whose farms were forcibly taken over by supporters of former president Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe had, in 2017, “launched a new international legal initiative to seek justice and compensation”.
Ben Freeth, spokesperson for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal Rights Watch, Zimbabwe, said in a press statement: “Dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers have launched a new international legal initiative to seek justice and compensation for the loss of their farms and livelihoods, and to stop the ongoing farm seizures which are ravaging the economy.”
The chaotic fast-tracked land reform in 2000, which was often violent, saw thousands of white commercial farmers ejected from the land and their workers displaced. Only a few hundred of the 4,500 white farmers still remain on their farms in Zimbabwe.
Since their eviction, these farmers had mounted various legal initiatives to either get the farms back or get compensation.
“We have a final and binding judgment from the SADC Tribunal in 2008 which held that fair compensation should be paid by the Zimbabwe government for land it had taken and the government is in contempt of it,” said Freeth.
“Unless the culture of impunity stops, no investment will take place in our country and the economic crisis will deepen. Without property rights and the rule of law, our negative trajectory as a failed state will accelerate.”
Freeth said on August 16 and 17, formal notices to initiate proceedings were served by the farmers’ legal team on Mugabe, three cabinet ministers, and the Zimbabwean government collectively under the SADC finance and investment protocol.
He said South African civil rights group AfriForum was assisting the Zimbabwean farmers in this legal initiative to invoke the legal protections of the SADC finance and investment protocol.
(Background reporting by ANA)