Zimbabwe halts farm grabs

Zimbabwe halts farm grabs

2013-01-03 14:30

Harare - Zimbabwe has ceased grabbing foreign-owned farms protected by bilateral investment agreement after a group of 40 Dutch farmers won a lawsuit for the loss of their properties, the lands minister said on Thursday.

Herbert Murerwa said government has decided to steer clear of farms falling under the so-called Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), because previous ventures into those farmlands have proved costly.

"All farms under BIPPA will not be acquired under the land reform programme. That's the position we have taken for now," the minister told AFP.

"This is in view of the ongoing litigation in the ICSID (International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes)."

The tribunal, which is a branch of the World Bank, in 2009 ruled in favour of the Dutch farmers who had sought compensation for land expropriated by Zimbabwe.

It ordered the government to pay the farmers €8.8m ($11.5m) in compensation and slapped on a 10% interest for every six months from the date the farms were seized until full payment of the amounts.

Murerwa said the government owed the farmers $25m following their victory at the Washington-based tribunal.

The farms were covered under a deal compelling Zimbabwe to protect investments from countries that penned the pact.

"Government will abide by the provision of the agreements and at the same time we do not want to increase our liability," Murerwa said.

Countries covered by the investment protection agreement include Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Malaysia and Switzerland.

President Robert Mugabe launched a controversial land reform programme in 2000 which saw the often-times violent seizure of more than 3 000 white-owned farms by militant supporters of his Zanu-PF party.

It was argued the land reforms were needed to correct colonial-era imbalances which favoured white farmers.

  • surfing.sam.9 - 2013-01-03 14:47

    Wll done to those farmers. Pity the people going hungry in zim because of a dictator.

      magaisada - 2013-01-03 18:07

      @alicia.myburgh.65 where?

      daren.m.vanstaden - 2013-01-03 20:30

      i would like the same responce for south africans who lost farms in zim but then again we have anc as head our goverment so probably still be a pipe dream

      hein.huyser - 2013-01-03 23:05

      @Tinavo, at Beitbridge, trying to get into South Africa, and those still back in Zim, not having the same luxuries your host country affords you

  • thebe.tau - 2013-01-03 14:57

    As a black south african, I always get mixed feelings on this issue

      appietrader - 2013-01-03 15:09

      Mixed feelings?? If a government sign an agreement the world will hold you to it doesn't matter your colour..or break the contract, they will still make you pay, and become a pariah like Zim is, easy hey??

      joe.smit.549 - 2013-01-03 15:15

      You should try farming, Thebe, and see how fast those feelings, will re-organize themselves. Farming without financial hand-outs, that is!

      chris.holloway.5 - 2013-01-03 15:38

      I can understand it..you want something for nothing, but you don't want to starve.. tough choice. As a white south african, I can contemplate the consequences of my decisions, can you?

      Sibusiso - 2013-01-03 16:00

      Thebe my brother ,the ANC is to blame ,they have the necessary political mandate to deal with the issue of land once and for all.Unfortunately they will only do it the day it becomes politically expedient to do so.The day the masses no longer automatically vote for them ,they will use the issue of land to win back the votes.The white farmers must try and reach some sort of a solution with the govt instead of resisting.

      nuus.reeder - 2013-01-03 19:13

      Sibusiso, the white farmers are not resisting. They have just lost faith dealing with a government that is not honest. Why should they give up their land, when they see the recipients of land have to date done nothing with it besides gut the land of everything.

  • Raymon - 2013-01-03 15:00

    Stay out of Zim. Do not return there under any circumstances. Let Zimbabwe reap what it sowed.

  • isaac.makua - 2013-01-03 15:24

    Grabbing land by force and hand it over to incomepent farmers is killing the economy of Zim more and more. Zim is agriculturally rich but people are starving because of stupid Land reform policies.

  • mark.a.fysh - 2013-01-03 15:48

    Nothing like a smack across the chops for the Zim Kleptocracy from powerful outside influence. I revel in the loss of face. Amazing how Zim falls into line when they can no longer threaten or bully. This should give heart to others who were thrown out of their country sans assets.

  • zamani.ndlovu.5203 - 2013-01-03 17:15

    As much as I know thts old news.these farmers hv won tht court battle long bk.zim gvt z willing 2 only compensate 4 the development on the farm,nt the land,wch z absolutely right.land reform z ther 2 stay,even the opposition admitted. the only mistake the gvt dd was 2 distribute t onto their comrades.ther ar a lot of capable blk zimbabweans who knw hw 2 tilt the land.those farms shld b given 2 them.same here in sa.

      dee.980 - 2013-01-03 19:35

      I agree - the land redistribution had little to do with benefitting the average Zimbabwean, and a great deal to do with deals for elite pals and vote manipulation. There is a farm in Chipinge that my father sold for Z$8000 - and stayed on for the next 5 years working with the new owner. It was a gift to the new farmer - but a joy to my father to enrich his old age in doing this. The farm did far better than it ever had when my father owned it .... but guess what happened - that farm was also just taken over by Zanu supporters ...and stands idle today. The new owner (Shangaan?) should have joined the Dutch people in their claim from Zanu-PF - but I fear he is not alive to do so.

  • damian.visser - 2013-01-03 17:26

    "Colonial-era imbalances which favoured white farmers" my arse! Read up on contour ploughing and its influence on soil erosion. Read Top Secret War by Col Ron Reid-Daly, in which he made the point, years before the farm invasions started, that the British were having the devil of a time trying to get the local farmers to contour plough (instead of straight up and down the slope, which is much less work), and that the "terrorists" were telling them that when they won the war they wouldn't have to contour plough any more. Ask yourself whether contour ploughing was likely to have been common practice among the local farmers in Zimbabwe for the last 20 years with many of the men working in South Africa and HIV infection spreading rapidly. Look at recent photos of productive white farmland separated from massively eroded wasteland by a wire fence, and ask yourself how Mother Nature drew that straight line between the "good" and "bad" land, and how the white farmers knew it was there. Consider the three things done when a farm is invaded: All trees cut down (no ground cover, increased runoff); goats brought in (sheep eat vegetation down to the ground and then stop. Goats pull up the roots and eat them as well (no ground cover and no binding of soil); no more contour ploughing. Decide for yourself whether the farm invasions were an action to correct imbalances from the past, or simply theft of farmland that had been properly conserved for the last 20 years. Take this viral...

  • simson.moller - 2013-01-03 17:31

    Zamani, please go back to school and learn to spell! What were you spewing there, because I couldn't make out one word you were waffling...?

  • maverick.generators - 2013-01-03 18:00

    LOL at the words "Farming" and "Zimbabwe" being used together. I'm there a few times a year. I grew up in that country. All the prime farming areas are now weeds and bushveld. The farmhouses stripped and bare shells left, all the implements long gone. It's back to nature with the exception of a few villagers that plough a few hectares of maize, spinach, and tomatoes. The only still operating farms are those owned by Zanu PF big wigs and the few whites left. For the rest there is no farming whatsoever. Zimbabwe imports pretty much everything. Maize meal from SA and Zambia. Great success to the stupidity of "land reform" and african anti-colonialist megalomania.

  • nuus.reeder - 2013-01-03 19:10

    Mugabe never launched a "land reform programme", it was merely his knee jerk reaction to losing a referedum. It was land grabs, purely for political purposes, nothing else - that is the truth. Now these wealthy foreign companies are protected, but white Zimbabwean farmers were persecuted as they did not have the power these foreign companies have. Criminal.

  • charl.odonovan - 2013-01-03 19:18

    @maverick, I can only agree with your comment. I also come from Zim and the apparent "correction" of colonial imbalances is ALL a political farce! Mugs lied to everyone about the "masses" being better off. Only his henchman are better off. As I previously said, where are the meat contracts with Switzerland now? Where are the tobacco floors now? Who supplies the maize back into Zim from Zambia now?

  • mart.botha - 2013-01-04 05:54

    Very easy to do when there is almost nothing left that is worthwhile to take. Where was Mugabe born by the way, I seem to think he is not a born countryman?

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-04 13:38

      He was born in Harare (then Salisbury). His father was a Malawi.

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-01-04 13:40

      He was born in Harare

  • sharmay.thuynsma - 2013-01-04 07:01

    haha, stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mugabe... Age is rotting your brain. You have long ago become the thing you once fought."Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed." -- Barbara Tuchman

  • SarelJBotha - 2013-01-04 07:49

    Pity our sicko government does not protect white RSA farmers who owned and lost land there. Racism at its best.

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