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Saturday, 8 June 2019
Zimbabwe: U.S.$53m Compensation for Displaced Farmers Reconfigured to RTGS$
The US$53 million that was allocated in this year's budget to compensate white farmers, who lost farms during the chaotic land redistribution exercise of 2000, has been reconfigured to RTGS$53 million, and will only be for "interim relief" purposes and not for the actual damages being sought, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.
This interim relief package would translate to about US$10 million on the interbank market introduced in February under a raft of monetary policy reforms.
Under last year's budget, government set aside US$53 million to compensate the affected white farmers, but cash-strapped Harare devalued it into the local currency.
This week, government said 737 former farm owners were eligible to receive "payments" under the "Relief Payment Scheme", with an evaluation exercise on the farms having been finalised last month.
"The registration of former farm owners for the interim relief payment scheme to the distressed former farm owners has been completed, with 737 farmers having been registered for the payments.
"The verification exercise of the registered farmers by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement has begun and will be completed by 31 May 2019.Payments to the former farm owners will start immediately after the verification exercise," read a statement issued by government this week.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) director Ben Gilpin told the Independent this week that deliberations with government on the actual compensation amount were still ongoing, and that it would likely dwarf resources currently being disbursed under the Relief Payment Scheme.
"Compensation sounds like the liabilities are settled. In reality this is a start and no more. The exercise referred to is for interim relief. The money allocated comes from the US$53 million in last year's budget allocated to pay for improvements made on acquired farms. As a result of dialogue, this money is now denominated in RTGS dollars," Gilpin said.
"The amounts paid now will help mitigate the circumstances of struggling ex-farmers until a substantive agreement and modalities are in place to meet the actual liability which is much greater than this initial relief payment."
Under the Relief Payment Scheme, about 900 applied out of the 3 300 affected farmers on the CFU records.
Each of the eligible candidates for relief payment is earmarked to receive RTGS$55 000, which translates to about US$10 000 on the interbank market introduced in February under a raft of monetary policy reforms.
Gilpin said disbursements under the Relief Payment Scheme are being hampered by "some administrative delays" arising from farms owned by "multiple shareholders."