Zimbabwe’s Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri on Friday rejected claims that the government is seeking to return the land to white former farmers who lost farms during the controversial Land Reform Programme.
Shiri was speaking following claims from some Legislators that the recently gazetted Statutory Instrument 62 (SI 62) seeks to reverse land reform.
Shiri said that only indigenous farmers and those under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) would get the opportunity to have their land back.
Indigenous farmers are people of Zimbabwean origin who were previously marginalised before independence in 1980 and later acquired farms either through direct purchase or through Government commercial farm schemes before the land reform (Hondo Yeminda/ Third Chimurenga) at the turn of the Millenium. Said Shiri:
The Land Reform Programme is final and irreversible. Any sentiments to the contrary are false and are to be disrespected with the contempt they deserve.
It is false to say that there is an intention to return land to the previous white commercial farmers and reverse the gains of the land reform.
It is equally false to state that the SI62 is designed to evade paying compensation to indigenous farmers; rather it creates an avenue for these farmers to exercise that option to acquire title deeds and continue with farming activities or opt for compensation.