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Land Compensation Deal Unconstitutional: MDC Alliance

The Nelson Chamisa led MDC Alliance says the Global Compensation Deed signed between the government of Zimbabwe and former white commercial farmers, displaced during the 2000 Fast Track Land Reform Program is unconstitutional as it did not emanate from parliament in accordance with the constitution.

A few days ago, government of Zimbabwe signed a US$3.5 billion deal to compensate former white farmers for the improvements made on the land they lost during the land reform.

However, the deal, as prescribed by the law, was supposed to go before Parliament leading to an Act of Parliament.

MDC Alliance Spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere said although the party is in support of the land reform, President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration breached certain provisions of the constitution.

“We note with concern that the Global Compensation Deed has been concluded without the particular of Parliament and key stakeholders in breach of the Constitution and the rule of law, in particular sections 295(4) which requires that any compensation for previously acquired agricultural land must be paid in terms of an Act Of Parliament.

“Adequate and fair compensation is necessary to ensure viability and national stability,” she noted.

She further questioned where the $US3.5 billion would be sourced from.

“There is no clarity as to where these funds will come from, who the beneficiaries of the funds will be, or how this figure has been computed. The lack of transparency on a matter that concerns public debt and public interest does not bond well,’ Mahere added.

According to the agreement, the money will be paid in installments, with half payable 12 months after signature of the agreement.

The other half will be paid in four annual installments, each of one-eighth of the amount but the whole lot can be paid within 12 months if the money is mobilized by then.

The deal further states that the former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements or Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements, in terms of subsections (1) and (2) of Section 295 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, speaking at the signing ceremony in Harare in July, said the agreement was a significant step towards bringing closure to the land reform program.

Under the program which started in the early 2000s, government compulsorily acquired excess farmland from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.

The government said this was meant to redress colonial land ownership imbalances that were skewed in favor of whites, and also to economically empower the country’s majority blacks.

“This momentous event is historic in many respects, it brings both closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said at the time.

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