650 former commercial farmers receive government compensation – CFU

white farmers
white farmers

Xolisani Ncube/Almot Maqolo

At least 650 white former commercial farmers have received payment of about $50 000 as compensation from government, the Commercial Farmers Union has revealed.

The money translates to approximately US$2 000 using the parallel make rate of 1:25.

However, the CFU said the money was not worth the value of investment ploughed in by the former commercial farmers.

Compensation payments have been made to the former commercial farmers who lost their farms in the land reform programme.

In the 2019 national budget, the government set aside US$53 million to pay the former farmers.

An appeal was, however, made that the money be shared over a larger number with government agreeing to the proposal while processes were put in place for an interim relief payment.

CFU president Ben Gilpin said there was “sort of a self-selective” process so that farmers in dire need could apply for that money.

“We had around 800 applicants, some of them were removed but basically 750 were processed for interim relief. During that period of time, the US$53 million was converted into RTGS. As of now about 650 would appear to have received a payment of around $50 000,” he said.

 “When they started paying in June last year, we anticipated that the government would pay everybody in a space of a couple of weeks, we are into February already and we still have a 100 guys who have not yet been paid. The value of that money even conservatively has reduced.”

The CFU has 3 500 farmers who are yet to be paid any form of compensation and many of those farmers were facing difficulties to survive.

Gilpin said that the engagement with government has been ongoing since 2015 with the aim of achieving a consensus based agreement.

“The dialogue at present is to get agreement from government with regards to the quantum on improvements and to get agreement that we can seek assistance to meet the cost for land elsewhere,” he said.

CFU engaged independent assessors that looked at government values and evaluated what they had invested on the farms.

 “At the moment, we are going on to try and find a figure that is acceptable for both parties. We hope that in due course fair agreement will be reached.  As for the value of improvements, we hope to look for support, together with Government, from the international community to get a package that deals with the whole payment modalities.”

Gilpin said the 650 beneficiaries still remain eligible to receive the bulk of their compensation and same applies to 3 500 registered farmers.

In his 2020 budget presentation, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube set aside $380 million to compensate mainly former white commercial farmers who lost their land. But, using the Tuesday’s parallel market rate the figure is now US$15.2 million.

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