from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE compensation agreement between Zimbabwe and farmers dispossessed of lands over the years has taken a new twist after a farmer organisation denounced the arrangement.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal Rights Watch distanced itself from the agreement.
It raised concern, particularly around calls by the government that they campaign for the lifting of sanctions and abandoned the legal fight for the farms.
The agreement is to pave way for compensation to farmers over developments made on the farms only.
The farmers will not be able to repossesses the farms that government took over for redistribution.
Patrick Chinamasa, acting secretary for information and publicity in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF government, has announced that, through the signing of the government’s Global Compensation Agreement at the end of July, there was now acceptance from white commercial farmers that there would be no compensation for land from the Zimbabwe government.
He said compensation for the land mus be done by the former colonial master, Britain.
Chinamasa called on the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and other farmer organisations to demand the unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States (US).
US slapped the sanctions after government endorsed the takeover of the farms.
Ben Freeth, spokesperson of the SADC Tribunal Rights Watch (Zimbabwe) argued the agreement also violated Zimbabwe’s constitution.
“However, in the government’s apparent haste to have the agreement signed, even Zimbabwe’s own constitution has been violated in the laid down procedure for the compensation process.”
Freeth claimed the farmers agreed under pressure.
“Although the reasons for the pressure were not clear, numerous legal experts and dispossessed farmers, many of them living in dire straits in Zimbabwe or scattered around the world, urged caution and highlighted legal shortcomings in the proposed draft agreement.”
SADC-TRW also argued the dispossessed farmers were not given prior sight of the actual agreement document before being asked to vote in a referendum.
There is also uncertainty where government would get the US$3,5 billion for the compensation.
“There is no money available or pledged, and the farming organisations are expected to work with the government to raise it internationally,” Freeth said.
– CAJ News