Indigenous farmers eligible for compensation.

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Kimberleigh Jiro

Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Perence Shiri says indigenous people who acquired land either through direct purchase or through Government Commercial Farm Schemes before the advent of The Land Reform Programme are eligible for full compensation for land and improvements as stated in Section 295(1) of the constitution.

Addressing the media today (Friday) Minister Shiri said, “it is equally false to state that the Statutory Instrument is designed to evade paying compensation to indigenous farmers. Rather it creates an avenue for these farmers to exercise the option to acquire title and continue with farming activities or opt for compensation.”

Government recently enacted Statutory 62 of 2020 which stipulates that indigenous farmers whose farms were compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme now have an option to apply to repossess their land and forgo monetary compensation.

Minister Shiri said the statutory instrument in question was guided by several constitutional provisions, including Section 295 which provides for the compensation of indigenous Zimbabweans whose agricultural land was acquired, and persons whose agricultural land was protected by government-to-government investment protection agreements at the time of acquisition.

 “It is thus false to say that there is an intention to return land to previous white commercial farmers and reverse the gains of land reform,” he said.

A committee will be put in place to handle applications. The committee, he added, will consider whether or not there were people settled by government on the farms in question, whether or not the applicant is in occupation of the farm or part of it and whether granting the application would be contrary to the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, regional and town planning or the general public interest.