The divisive issue of land reform in Zimbabwe that left the country in tatters over as it was haphazardly carried out has now reached a point where the Zimbabwean government has decided to start paying compensation to dispossessed white farmers after April.
The major conflicting issue is that how can a government repay people who stole land from our ancestors by committing brutal acts of force and horrendous crimes against humanity? And at the same time one could say that fundamental property rights were not respected when they were forcefully dispossessed off their farms.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government seeks to redress their differences with the West and thus are moving in to compensate the white farmers who were forced off their farms. Former president Robert Mugabe's chaotic land reform resulted in the destruction of the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe and subsequently the destruction of the whole economy at large. This is because land reform was a noble idea used for the wrong reasons. Mugabe turned to it so that he could reclaim his popularity which was fast fading away in the wake of a popular and resurgent opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Land reform was conducted on a partisan basis, and was also conducted in an unplanned manner that was characterized by the use of sheer force and brutality.
The government has thus set aside $17.5 million for compensation purposes. The initial payments are meant for those who are in deep financial distress. Full compensation will be completed at a latter stage.
"The registration process and list of farmers should be completed by the end of April 2019, after which the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners," Zimbabwe’s ministries of finance and agriculture said in a joint statement on Monday.
The registration process of farmers will be handled by the Commercial Farmers Union. Government maintains that it will only pay compensation for infrastructure and improvements on farms and not for the land.
But, is it right for the government to compensate white farmers when the colonialists seized land from black people by force?
Header image credit - The Zimbabwe Independent