Zimbabwe farmers offered $3.5bn to settle old land dispute
It’s not clear where Zimbabwe could find the sum, and the government still wants the UK to help pay
Harare — Zimbabwe’s white commercial farmers, who were violently evicted from their land in a series of invasions that began two decades ago, said they have been offered $3.5bn to settle their dispute with the government.
The offer is for improvements and assets on the more than 4,000 farms that were seized and doesn’t pertain to the land itself, said Ben Gilpin, director of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). An agreement is yet to be reached. The CFU represents most large-scale farmers in the country.
Neither Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister nor officials in the finance ministry immediately answered questions sent on Wednesday and it’s not clear where Zimbabwe would find $3.5bn. The country is battling inflation of almost 800% and dealing with shortages of currency, fuel and food with more than 90% of the population out of formal employment.
Dispossessed farmers had been seeking $10bn, but that was 15 to 20 years ago. Zimbabwe’s government maintains that the UK, its former colonial power, should help pay the farmers. That’s unlikely to happen because the UK and most Western governments criticised the seizures and the allocation of the properties to senior members of the ruling Zanu-PF party — alongside allegations of human rights abuses.
The offer is an attempt to draw to a close a dispute that tipped Zimbabwe’s economy into free fall by slashing export income and incurring sanctions from the US and EU.
Zimbabwe’s rulers maintain the land was taken forcibly during colonial times and needed to be returned to black Zimbabweans.
The Telegraph reported the potential deal earlier.
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