Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Government has said beneficiaries of the land reform programme are contributing towards compensation of white farmers who had developed infrastructure on the farms through land tax payments.
At the turn of the millennium, the Government embarked on a land reform programme to address colonial inequalities where the black majority was landless while the white minority occupied vast tracts of the country’s land.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri said although Government was responsible for compensating white farmers, new farmers also have a role in the programme. He was responding to legislators during last Wednesday’s National Assembly Question and Answer session.
Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri said the new farmers did not occupy virgin land and should pay for developments that they found on the farms.
Legislators had queried why the Government was making new farmers pay compensation to the former farmers.
“It is true that the new farmers have to contribute towards the cost of improvement on the farms and that money ultimately is used for compensating the former farmers. There are improvements that were done on the farms and the new farmer is utilising those improvements,” said Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri.
“Let me categorically state that the compensation is not being done directly from the new farmer to the former farmer but is being done through Government.” He said new farmers were contributing to the compensation of white farmers through the payment of land taxes.
Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri said Government felt it was not proper to burden all tax payers when it knew the direct beneficiaries of the programme.
“It makes sense that instead of labouring the tax payer, the person who is directly benefitting from those improvements contributes towards the compensation of the former farmer,” he said.
“We also have the aspect of the leases that are paid by the farmers at the rate of three dollars per hectare per year. All that money is meant to actually go towards the compensation of the former farmers.”
Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri did not state the amount that has been spent towards compensating former farmers. — @nqotshili