Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Finance Minister: Zimbabwe Owes Debt to White Farmers

Finance Minister: Zimbabwe Owes Debt to White Farmers

September 28, 2011

Peta Thornycroft | Johannesburg

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s finance minister, says white farmers who were 
evicted from their homes and farms by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters 
must be paid compensation, but says the government can’t finance that debt.

Biti told a meeting of his supporters in Harare earlier this month that it 
was ridiculous that evictions of white farmers continued long after the 
so-called land reform program ended.

Zimbabwe could still not feed itself, he said, adding that title deeds in 
the form of long leases, backed by the law and fully tradeable, should be 
restored to land taken from white farmers.

That land is owned by the state and none of the so-called new farmers now on 
that land have security of tenure.

The land reform program initiated by President Mugabe was aimed at 
redistributing land that the president said was taken from the people of 
Zimbabwe during the British colonial era.

Biti criticized some of the new farmers, mostly supporters of President 
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, for failing to restore Zimbabwe’s once-robust 
agricultural output. He said some of them did not even live on the land they 
were given but operated their farms via mobile phones from town.

Biti, Secretary General of the Movement for Democratic Change party, also 
said Zimbabwe desperately needs a land audit following the chaotic land 
redistribution exercise, and that evicted white farmers must be paid 

“We want to know who owns the land,” he said. “How many women have benefited 
from the land reform? The second thing is the issue of compensation. We 
estimate that the genuine compensation to farmers is about $3 billion, but 
Zimbabwe does not have the capacity of paying three billion dollars.”

He said Zimbabwe could not pay $7 billion in foreign debt inherited from the 
former ZANU-PF administration in 2009.

He suggested that compensation for white farmers could become part of 
Zimbabwe’s sovereign debt and be settled at some time in the future when 
Zimbabwe achieved international recognition as a highly indebted state.

He also told supporters that settling the land question was essential to fix 
the economy.

“This economy will not grow at double-digits growth rates if we don’t fix 
three things: if we don’t fix our  politics, our politics is ugly: If we don’t 
fix the debt question, and we don’t fix the land question,” said Biti.

A land audit is one of the outstanding issues of the multi-party political 
agreement which bought the current inclusive government to power 31 months 

Biti said that the redistribution of land ended in 2005 and that it was 
ridiculous that the 200 or so remaining white farmers were still being 
evicted from their land.

After about 4,000 white farmers who produced about 40 percent of foreign 
earnings were forced off their land, Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed and the 
country endured record-breaking inflation that helped make the local 
currency worthless.

Things did not turn around until the the inclusive government adopted the 
U.S. dollar and the South African rand.


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