White Zimbabwe farmers living in the Southern African region have rejected Zimbabwe’s offer to settle a 3.5 billion dollar land compensation deal over 10 years.
The amended agreement was signed in 2020 with the farmers who had been removed from their properties more than 20 years ago. The farmers say they will be stepping up pressure against the Zimbabwean government by demanding the return of their farms to them.
The issue of land ownership has always been a highly emotive one. These white former farmers in Zimbabwe say they have a tangible claim, and that the 3.5 billion dollar deal is a slap in the face for them.
“There is nothing to hide here, for the farmers, they want to put their case, when this global compensation deed was signed one of the issues was a few hundred farmers destitute and we have nothing and they don’t know how they will afford their medical bills at the end of the month. The Zimbabwean government gave us a few dollars each month but it’s not enough and we never know when they will pay us, and if we don’t accept their new deals, the government would stop paying us,” explain chairperson of Southern African Agriculture Initiative, Dr Theo De Jager.
They say they want fair compensation for their land and have turned to the South African courts to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government.
Legal representative of the Zimbabwean farmers, Willie Spies.
“We decided to carry on with a edict claim against the SA government on behalf of the farmers we represent, in the first half of 2019. We issued 56 summons against SA government and President Cyril Ramaphosa for a …. claim for the damages suffered by Zimbabwean farmers as a result of the deprivation of their rights, the ConCourt is currently tasked with this matter,” says Spies.
On the ground though, some Zimbabweans living in South Africa say they would welcome the white farmers back because they created job opportunities for them.
“Because people from Zimbabwe are stuck in getting jobs, there are no jobs maybe the farmers can get the money and we can get back our jobs.
“The white farmers should be compensated because they upgraded them and built dams and they invested money, even though it is our land those were past injustices
These farmers say their land claim is worth more than 10 billion dollars, and that the only way to get compensation is putting political pressure on the Zimbabwean government to amend its land policies. By Horisani Sithole and LB