Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Please pay farmers for us – govt begs Dutch

Please pay farmers for us – govt begs Dutch

Written by Gift Phiri
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 12:31

HARARE – Top EU officials last week told a ministerial delegation from
Zimbabwe to first pay compensation to Dutch farmers whose land was
expropriated under the land grab before development aid could start flowing
to Harare.


In a July 2 meeting in Brussels between Zimbabwe’s ministerial reengagement
committee and Roderick van Schreven, the vice minister of Foreign Trade of
the Netherlands, the reengagement committee was told to first settle the
dispute between Zimbabwe and the 13 Dutch claimants who won their case last
year at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment


The ruling, passed on April 22 2009, stated that each of the Dutch farmers
were to receive between 450 000 Euro and 930 000 Euro for the expropriated
farms, in addition to compensation for assets left on the farms. Interest
was set at 10 percent, compounded every six months. The Tribunal also
ordered a payment of 20 000 Euro to each claimant for reparation, or the
cost of re-settling.


The Zimbabwe government has not paid the farmers a cent, and the ministerial
delegation to Brussels, led by minister of Energy and Power Development,
Elton Mangoma, was taken to task over the issue.
Van Schreven told the team that his government wa


s under mounting domestic
pressure over compensation for the farmers, whose properties were legally
protected under government-to-government agreements.


According to confidential minutes of the meetings obtained by The Zimbabwean
this week, the Zimbabwe government acknowledged its obligation to the Dutch
farmers. This marks a dramatic summersault as, just a month earlier, the
government had rubbished another compensation claim in favour of white
farmers whose land was expropriated.


The minutes record that the government could not pay compensation “because
of poor revenue inflows”, and the delegation inquired whether the Dutch
government could not settle the farmers claims and include the amount on the
government of Zimbabwe’s debt to the Netherlands. The repayment methods
would then be discussed by the two governments.” This was firmly rejected.
The Zimbabwean ministers then attempted to have the debt paid by the Paris
club of world lenders, but Dutch authorities insisted that was impossible,
and said Zimbabwe had no choice but to pay the farmers compensation itself.
“They concluded that the farmers were contemplating attaching property
belonging to the government of Zimbabwe to settle their claims,” the minutes


During the World Bank Tribunal hearings last year, Zimbabwe invoked the
state of necessity defence, essentially arguing that its so-called land
“reform” exercise was an effort to address entrenched historical
inequalities in land-ownership in Zimbabwe, and therefore was justified as a
measure taken in the public interest.


Yet, according to the Tribunal, Zimbabwe failed to explain “why such a state
of necessity prevented it from calculating and paying the compensation due
to the farmers in conformity with the BIT.”


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