Zimbabwe’s white farmers optimistic about land compensation pledge

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Farmer Keith Kirkman (right) talks to war veteran Islam Burira after Kirkman’s farm 60km from Harare was invaded in 2000. (Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s white farmers are cautiously optimistic after the new President pledged to compensate those who lost their farms during the controversial land reforms under former President Robert Mugabe.

During his inauguration speech, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised his government would compensate those who lost their farms due to land reform policies implemented by Mugabe at the turn of the millennium.

“Well first of all I am just glad that the president said that because there have been a lot of white farmers waiting for that to happen, they are relying on that to happen and I think it is going to happen. I am totally optimistic that President Mnangagwa is going to carry out that promise and I think we are looking at a brighter future in Zimbabwe.” Dave Worswick, owner of Dormervale farm said.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union says the president’s pledge will go a very long way to restoring confidence among farmers, not to mention reassuring international investors

“In resolving this matter it will unlock considerable conflict over the land and it will enable a whole bundle of rights to be delivered to farmers on the ground and this will restore bankability to the sector and enable full recovery. It will also send a very positive message to international investors that our country is dealing fairly with investors and therefore we believe that those kinds of measures that have been taken that have restricted access to international finance will be removed and also foreign direct investment will come back helping both the agricultural sector and the country to recover.” Bill Gilpin, the director of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmer’s Union said.

But there is still some trepidation.

“At this stage I’m a bit nervous. It’s so early days for the new president. We haven’t seen a reaction out of him yet and while we’ve had this little power vacuum for the last week we’ve had a hive of activity on the farm where people have been coming in quickly to loot and to set up shop and to get their portion of land.” Worswick said.

For now, farmers are holding off on their celebrations, until they see the president’s decision enacted on the ground.