DISPLACED commercial farmers’ claims against government should balloon to $116 trillion after they factor in improvements on farms and damages incurred during the chaotic land reform p
Justice for Agriculture (Jag), a splinter group from the Commercial Farmers Union, is seeking compensation for over 2 000 farmers evicted from their farms almost five years ago.
Jag said so far over 2 000 evicted farmers had finished the evaluation of the losses they suffered when they were forced off their farms.
“Submitted evaluations show that each farmer lost an average US$2 million when he was evicted,” Jag chairman John Worswick said, adding his compensation claim after losing his highly mechanised 700-hectare farm was US$3 million.
“About 4 000 commercial farmers lost 5 800 properties which translates to US$11,6 billion (about $116 trillion),” he said.
Worswick said the claims could rise due to delays in paying compensation.
Worswick said the Zimbabwe Independent figure of $39 trillion published last week was a gross understatement.
He said the farmers would be taking their case to the international court.
The farmers said despite government’s public posturing that it would compensate evicted farmers for improvements on acquired properties, a mere 200 white farmers had been partially compensated.
“A total 700 farmers were invited to the Agriculture ministry to discuss compensation proposals,” one farmer said. “To show that government is not serious with the compensation issue, the offers were all verbal. Only 200 farmers who had no alternative sources of income accepted the partial compensation which constituted between 5-10% of their claims.”
Farmers said figures for compensation were calculated through evaluation of improvements on the property, lost income, damaged or vandalised equipment, relocation expenses and the trauma which the farmer and his workers went through when they were invaded.
More than a dozen white commercial farmers lost their lives when they tried to resist war veterans and Zanu PF militia takeovers of their properties.
Critics of the land reforms blame the policy for Zimbabwe’s compromised food security situation, arguing that the majority of the “new farmers” lack experience and rely on government handouts to farm.
Of about 4 500 large-scale commercial white farmers operating in Zimbabwe five years ago, there are about 500 now, who own 3% of the country’s land.