NATIONAL Security minister Didymus Mutasa and former army commander Vitalis Zvinavashe on Wednesday clashed over compensation for white farmers disposs
essed during the fast-track land reform programme.
Mutasa, now responsible for land reform, was appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands and Agriculture of which Zvinavashe, a Zanu PF Gutu senator, is a member.
Zvinavashe said A2 farmers and not taxpayers should compensate white farmers for improvements and movable assets on the farms. Mutasa rejected the suggestion, saying the country’s laws spelt out that government should pay the compensation. He said farmers should concentrate on farming activities only.
“The politicians are refusing to pay,” he said. “That land was simply taken from us through conquest. It belongs to all of us. The farmers should concentrate only on farming activities.”
Mutasa’s response apparently angered Zvinavashe who said A2 farmers should pay because when they applied for land they indicated that they had the financial resources.
“Let’s be honest with one another. Someone was saying I have the capacity and now we say let government pay for what he benefited from. It is not fair,” Zvinavashe said.
“There is no need to burden the government, which is the taxpayer.”
After some further altercation, Zvinavashe told Mutasa: “There is no answer today. Go and look into it.”
Government three months ago started to compensate dispossessed farmers using taxpayers’ monies. The farmers have however said the amounts being offered by government are insignificant compared to the losses suffered.
The issue of compensation also came under the spotlight on Monday during a Budget and Finance Portfolio Committee meeting where Finance minister Herbert Murerwa appeared.
The ruling party’s Chivi South legislator Charles Majange told Murerwa that he felt guilty about taxpayers being made to pay for improvements on his farm.
Said Majange: “With regards to the compensation of the white farmer the ordinary taxpayer is paying for my farm. I feel guilty about it. Do you minister?”
Murerwa said this was going to be rationalised through leases. He added that government had taken a position that the issue of payment was not for the individual but for the government.
An official from the Commercial Farmers Union Kudakwashe Ndoro told the same hearing that failure by government to pay compensation would affect investment.