Farmer slams compensation ‘scam’
Publish date: 15 April 2019
Issue Number: 819
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Embattled Zimbabwean farmer Ben Freeth believes government’s plan to compensate distressed white former commercial farm owners is just a propaganda exercise. ‘It’s just to make the country look as if things have returned to normal and that they are gradually ignoring the injustices of the Mugabe regime,’ claimed Freeth, who is furious that Harare will not be paying compensation for expropriated land and assets. The Sunday Tribune reports that he said the decision not to pay out for expropriated land was against the 2008 findings of the SADC tribunal judgment which ruled that compensation should be paid for land. The case was fought by Freeth’s father-in-law, Mike Campbell who was joined by 77 other dispossessed farmers. Using international law and various Human Rights Conventions that Zimbabwe had signed up to, the tribunal found that they should receive compensation.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dismissed claims that his government has sold out by agreeing to pay compensation to white former commercial farmers. His government last week budgeted R238m as part payment for the estimated 4 500 white farmers who lost their farmland in the chaotic land reform programme in 2000. EFF leader Julius Malema said 'it’s a sellout position ... the way he is going about it, he is not going to finish his term'. A report on the Fin24 site notes that Mnangagwa said his government was simply following the country's Constitution which provides for the compensation of improvements made on the farms and not on the land. 'In agriculture, the land reform is irreversible and Section 72 of the Constitution is very clear in this regard. However, the same Constitution provides that no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition.'