Zimbabwe’s government is now open to giving back lands to foreign white farmers who have the benefit of protection under international investment treaties, the Information Ministry has said.
Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana, pointed out that the offer applies to only about 37 foreigners whose lands were seized between 2000 and 2001. In cases where land ownership reversal is impossible, the Zimbabwean government will make restitution with land from elsewhere.
Mangwana said: “Some of the previous owners had already been compensated from the previous government. For example, the Dutch farmers were being paid over the years. They may get that land or replacement land elsewhere instead of compensation.”
In July, the government of Zimbabwe signed an agreement with the body that represents the interests of many of the country’s white farmers for a compensation package of $3.5 billion.
The Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe agreed to be paid the amount over the course of the next six years with the Zimbabwean government expected to settle 50% of the sum within the next 12 months.
At the turn of this century, former President Robert Mugabe expropriated lands from more than 4,000 white farmers as part of an agenda to reverse what was seen as wrongs of colonization.
But Mugabe’s nationalist scheme accelerated the decline of a fragile economy. While domestic productivity slowed to near-halt, Zimbabwe’s Western partners turned into enemies who dished out sanction after sanction as a result of the former president’s decisions.
Now, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been departing from the unrelenting Black nationalism of Mugabe. Mnangagwa, since 2017, has spoken of the need to resuscitate a very ill Zimbabwean economy, a venture he has connected abundantly with racial politics and property ownership in the country.
Reparation to white farmers painfully divides opinion in Zimbabwe, even among the Black majority in the country.