Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Agricultural Recovery and Compensation Report for Congress 2010

Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe

Congress 2010



Mr President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today and present this report on behalf of the Unions displaced farmers.

ARAC came into being earlier this year and took over from FIT which previously represented  displaced farmers. A change of name was felt to be appropriate because of the need to more specifically focus on the issues that affect us as displaced farmers. This has coincided with a renewed determination to mainstream our concerns and also greater sense of acceptance within the Union.

Most of us left due to failed and nonexistent representation during the “Dark Days of Agriculture” that we all experienced in the early to mid 2000’s. The name ARAC was chosen by farmers at the FIT AGM in February and stands for Agricultural Recovery And Compensation. ARAC has worked hard to obtain the full backing of the Union in its role to fully support and represent displaced farmers and their interests. Our presence within the Union has become extremely evident throughout the working of the establishment and we continuously endeavour to ensure that our contribution is meaningful and constructive. We clearly recognise the traditional role of the union and the fundamental importance of representing actively farming members. That we achieve a balance in the representation of all farmers’ interests is essential for our entire constituency. This is a delicate process as our fortunes are linked. With a common goal to ensure the rights of all title holders and citizens and investors are upheld, I am sure that as farmers we can forge appropriate joint strategies to take us forward.

The ARAC committee has been sub-divided into two working arms, one to handle Compensation and Legal matters, the other to handle Farming Projects and Job opportunities as well as Welfare.

The Compensation and Legal Sub Committee has been tasked specifically with those aspects of comprehensive loss evaluation that are not specifically dealt with under the Union’s MOU with  Valcon.

We believe that, whilst there is considerable difficulty and variation in the extent of such losses between farmers and the degrees to which they were able to mitigate such losses, consequential loss evaluations can and should be documented. There are many, tenants in particular for whom no other claim is possible. Within the Union there is considerable information available to enable us to put together various working models that may assist to establish bench marks that, within a court of law, may standardise appropriate compensation for these types of losses without having to individually take claims to legal arbitration. This would save a huge amount of time and effort on the individuals’ part and would become a meaningful inclusion to the “Global Figure” loss claim that farmers will one day present to the Government of Zimbabwe. To date there has been neither funding nor capacity for this project; however we continue to peruse this, as we realize the importance of this aspect to many of our constituency. This committee has constantly lobbied for and met with the legal team and is determined to ensure that a comprehensive legal strategy that will become the road map to the final goal is implemented. We also have an MOU with RAU – the purpose of which is to ensure that the human rights violations that have occurred during the land invasions are documented and recognised in efforts to bring about justice and reconciliation.

Welfare and Projects

This sub-committee has been tasked to investigate ways of promoting the welfare and livelihoods of our constituency. We are actively investigating and promoting various agricultural projects in and around the country, which would utilize existing commercial farmer skills. Great opportunity exists for the transfer of knowledge and experience to the communal farming sector. This can be done without


conflict on the land and to this end we have been a prime mover in the recent signing by the Union of an MOU with The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU). This historic event opens the door for a closer working relationship between both these farmer organizations, and can only auger well for the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe. In addition we believe this initiative creates the opportunity for enormous synergy and will result in considerable support from local and international resource partners involved in agriculture. To date a number of projects have been identified and various submissions have been made to the donor community. I’m happy to report that some of these projects have been accepted in principle and have advanced to the second stage of acceptance. Should these projects be fully endorsed and implementation called for, it is envisaged that employment opportunities will be created for a number of our members.

Initially projects will be confined to pilot schemes which, once implemented and fully proven, will lay the foundations for bigger and more ambitious ventures.

We therefore would like to encourage all farmers and businessmen to bring forward any sound idea or project to the ARAC Committee for consideration and or assistance on implementation and funding for the benefit of the Communal and Small Scale sector of our agricultural community. These projects if accepted are a real win, win for both organizations. To this end ZFU are also working on projects that they will present to the donor community that will include our participation. As a facilitating partner the Union should also benefit financially from these ventures and as a result a specific in house Union “projects team” has been inaugurated. We are developing relationships with FAO, EU, US Aid and others; in an effort to understand their goals and priorities so as to be able to position ourselves to capitalize on any opportunities they might offer for the benefit of our members. Our office continues to compile data bases of business services offered by our members and CV’s of those who are in need of employment; we endeavour to communicate any appropriate opportunities.

Financial survival is an unending challenge to many of our farming community. This is particularly so for the more aged. At the start of land invasions the average age of our farmers was around 55; this puts many of our farmers now over 65 years of age. Most had put their life savings into their businesses and had no other provision for old age. For those who invested in pension policies, these have been thoroughly destroyed by the iniquitous hyperinflation that has only recently ended with the abolition of the Zimbabwe dollar. Real US Dollar inflation now threatens to overtake the resources that are left. Today, many have lost all and we continue to investigate all avenues of creating a new support base for these people. The Zimbabwe Elderly Support Trust (ZEST) which was formed to try and do this has however so far achieved little. Given the global economic downturn this is not surprising, nonetheless appeals to international charities and foundations continue. We have however been able to facilitate the identification of beneficiaries and distribution of substantial donated food parcels. We are indeed grateful to all those agencies and individuals who have not only recognised the plight of our elderly, but who also give so unselfishly of their time and resources to make life bearable for them. In particular we would like to thank the Farm Families Trust, Homes in Zimbabwe, Just friends, Pensioners’ Aid, SOAP , ZAWT and Zimbabwe Pensioners Support for all they have done. What have we done!!!

In addition to providing support to the exhaustive efforts of the Union to promote its recovery proposal and the particular relationship with Valcon that is so necessary to this exercise, our primary focus has been to renew contact with former members of the Union. We aim to provide for them a point of communication and representation in our endeavour to bring about recovery and compensation. We have been able to restore communication with around 1700 ex members and regularly update them of what our union is trying to achieve. In providing a service specifically designed to meet the needs of


the evicted we hope that they will renew their membership and build the very necessary credibility that the Union needs if it is to represent itself as the body that truly carries the commercial farmers’ mandate. Our office receives and responds to many queries and visits on a daily basis. We liaise and network with many other organizations in an effort to bring about a better understanding of our goals.

We are particularly concerned to foster unity amongst our community and to this end there is ongoing dialogue with SACFA and others in an effort to unite our constituencies. Clear and definitive policy and appropriate constitutional change is crucial to this and we believe the coming months will be critical in this regard. In all our efforts we remain focused on the big picture: A renewed Zimbabwe that respects the rights of all its people, that honours its legal commitments to those whose property it has taken; a place where investors carry out their business and farmers can expect to do their work as respected stewards of the land and so contribute to the recovery of the nation and its agricultural sector, without fear or favour.

Thank you.

Ben Purcell-Gilpin


14 July 2010


President’s Council 2010

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