Zimbabwe is moving forward with a process to compensate former farm owners whose land was taken from them because they were white during the country’s fast-track land reform program (FTLRP).
“The registration process and the list of farmers should be completed by the end of April 2019, after which the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement,” the government said in a statement.
In the meantime, some affected farmers are eligible for interim advance payments and will soon begin to receive them.
The FTLRP began in April 2001, and was designed to help speed up a decades-long process seeking to achieve economic justice for black Zimbabweans. Its original goal was to redistribute 8.3 million hectares of land, taking it from large-scale commercial owners and redistributing it to landless, low-income farmers.
The program quickly came under scrutiny for alleged human rights violations, including the deaths of white farmers, and because of the political alignment between militia groups and the ruling Zanu PF party led for decades by former president Robert Mugabe.
Millions of hectares of Zimbabwean land transferred to as many as 220,000 households, while about 4,500 white farmers were affected. Meanwhile, some experts said the FTLRP implementation left land under-used in a country facing protracted cycles of extreme economic crisis – and the land redistribution itself hurt too many black Zimbabweans because land rights were politicized under the ruling party’s control.
The government said that processing the delayed compensations will enable Zimbabwe and former farm owners, in conjunction with cooperating partners, to “progress towards closure of the land issue.” Remaining white farmers in Zimbabwe are eligible for 99-year land leases.