Zimbabwe sets up fund to compensate farmers for seized land


Zimbabwe plans to start compensating farmers who lost their land and livelihoods during farm invasions that began in 2000, according to a Finance Ministry circular distributed to lawmakers.

Farmers may be compensated for “both land and improvements,” as well as for equipment acquired by the state during the often violent seizure of mainly white-owned properties that began in 2000. Zimbabwe’s government said previously it would pay only for improvements such as dams, roads and buildings on seized farms.

The Lands Compensation Fund will be financed by rents and levies charged to the new occupants of the former large-scale farms, “development partners” and donations, the Finance Ministry said. It didn’t say how compensation would be calculated or what former farm owners might expect to be paid.

The announcement came as President Robert Mugabe’s government is seeking to restore relations with the International Monetary Fund and western donors. Finance Minister  Patrick Chinamasa has said Zimbabwe is ready to pay lenders such as the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank about $1.8 billion dollars in debt and hopes the Washington-based fund will resume lending to the southern African nation this year.

Mugabe declared a state of national disaster last month due to the worst drought in almost two decades that’s killed cattle, withered crops and left more than a million people needing food aid.