Zimbabwe war veterans oppose white farmer compensation

Friday September 18 2020
world01pix

Zimbabwe's current President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photo | File

By AFP News

A group of Zimbabwean liberation war veterans has filed a legal challenge against the government's plans to compensate former white farmers whose properties were seized during controversial land reforms two decades ago.

Zimbabwe's late ex-president Robert Mugabe launched land reforms in 2000, grabbing white-owned farms to reverse a historical land ownership imbalance that favoured the white minority population. 

More than 4,000 of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white commercial farmers were evicted from their properties, which were given to black tenants.

Zimbabwe's current President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed a $3.5 billion (three billion euros) agreement with white farmers in July this year as compensation for their losses.
Under the deal, they won't be compensated for the lost land, but for the infrastructure and developments they made on their former farms.

No payouts have been given yet, but the reconciliation attempts have sparked uproar among liberation war veterans who led the sometimes violent farm seizures.
Last week, a dozen former fighters filed an application with the High Court against Mnangagwa's administration.

In an affidavit dated September 10 but seen by AFP on Thursday, the veterans accused the government of prioritising "white settler" grievances over compensation for losses they incurred during the 1972-1979 liberation struggle.

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The group said white farmers' "recent concerns" were considered "more deserving of attention" than problems faced by the black population from the "pre-colonial... to post-independence period".

The matter is yet to be heard by the court.
Around 27,000 people died in a 1972-1979 war against British colonial rule, which ended in 1980.

Most of those killed were black Zimbabweans fighting a minority white regime led by Ian Smith.
Mugabe came to power in 1980 and ruled the southern African country for almost four decades, until he was ousted by a military coup in 2017. 

Both Mugabe and his successor Mnangagwa had vowed never to reverse the land reforms.
The farm grabs brought Zimbabwe's agricultural production to its knees, and contributed to its long-running economic woes.

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