Felex Share, Harare Bureau
President Mnangagwa yesterday said the land reform programme is irreversible and Government will uphold the Constitution by compensating white former commercial farmers for developments they made on the farms.
Addressing the Zanu-PF National Youth Assembly in Harare, President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic will always defend constitutionalism.
Government is identifying and registering white former commercial farmers who lost land during the agrarian reform to pave way for compensation using RTGS$53 million allocated in the 2019 National Budget.
The reparation is being done in accordance with the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAS).
The compensation, which is only for improvements made on the land, is being misconstrued by some misguided elements chief among them Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Mr Julius Malema, as a reversal of the land reform programme.
Section 72 of the Zimbabwe Constitution stipulates that where land is acquired for public purpose, “no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on it before its acquisition.”
Further Section 295 states the only two circumstances where land is compensated for saying “any indigenous Zimbabwean whose agricultural land was acquired by the State before the effective date is entitled to compensation from the State for the land and any improvements that were on the land when it was acquired; 2. Any person whose agricultural land was acquired by the State before the effective date and whose property rights at that time were guaranteed or protected by an agreement concluded by the Government of Zimbabwe with the government of another country, is entitled to compensation from the State for the land and any improvements in accordance with that agreement.”
Said President Mnangagwa: “In agriculture, the land reform is irreversible and Section 72 of the Constitution is very clear in this regard.
However, the same Constitution provides that no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition.
“For a long time Government has provided through the fiscus for such payments in respect of the said compensation on improvements of the land. Government will meet its obligation as outlined in the Constitution.”
He said backtracking on the agrarian reform would be a betrayal to those who sacrificed their lives during the liberation struggle.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we fought for land and there is no way we will retract our position with regards the land reform,” President Mnangagwa said. “Neither will we betray our fellow comrades who lie in marked and unmarked graves who paid the supreme sacrifice for this land.”
He urged the youths to utilise the land allocated to them productively.
“I am informed that you have embarked on a programme dubbed ‘10 hectare per district programme and sustainable livelihoods projects for the youth in agriculture’,” he said.
“Your agriculture projects should also take into account various contemporary issues such as climate change, the need to broaden the scope and range of crops, cognisant of the need to also penetrate the export markets. In your various programmes and projects, put yourselves in organised groups so that you can easily pool resources and support. In doing so, always think about the marginalised and how they can be incorporated into mainstream economic activities. Meanwhile, my Government will continue to make deliberate and flexible policy instruments to ensure that you are fully empowered.”
Earlier on while addressing the youths, Zanu-PF secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi had told Mr Malema to “shut up” and go back to the ANC for revolutionary lessons.
“Mr Malema must know that the land question is behind us,” he said.
“We have our land, we don’t need anyone to tell us about our land. He has to go back to school and we also advise him to go back to ANC to learn.”
President Mnangagwa said the principle of national dialogue was there to say as building and prosperity of the country “required everyone of us, as one people and one nation.”
“There is nothing wrong when you continue to talk to people who have a positive vision towards progress, who have a positive view towards progress,” he said.
“Your leave out those who have a negative view and embrace progress.”