The government is preparing to pay $38 million as compensation to eleven Dutch farmers who were forced off their land during the ‘chaotic’ land reform programme in 2000.
In 2012, a group of Dutch farmers launched a campaign to force the Zimbabwean government to pay them $23 million compensation as ordered by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in 2009.
The Dutch government then put pressure on Zimbabwe to fulfil its international obligations under the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement between the two countries.
Reports said a special envoy appointed in 2010 had travelled regularly to Zimbabwe to negotiate with local officials.
The government has now made an agreement for $38 million with the Dutch Government to compensate the 11 farmers.
This was revealed in Parliament recently when Harare North legislator, Allan Norman Markham inquired about Zimbabwe’s agreement with the Dutch government from Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube.
Markham also wanted to know more details on the Global Settlement Deed, an agreement the Zimbabwean government made with the Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe (an exclusive union for white commercial farmers) in July 2020 to pay white farmers US$3.5 billion as compensation for the losses incurred from the same land reform programme.
“On the Global Settlement Deed, I have received a three-page summary and that is all. On the issue of the Dutch farmers, I have received the terms of payment to the farmers signed by the representatives of the Zimbabwe Government. I actually have not received the loan or the terms of the loan from the Dutch Government to the Government of Zimbabwe to pay the said farmers but I am happy with what I have got on that one,” Markham said.
In response, the finance minister said it was his intention to only provide a three-page summary on the Global Settlement Deed, as the document was signed under restricted conditions of confidentiality.
“It only becomes public when they have signed the cessation and when we are ready to pay, then it comes before this House for approval and I will table it before this House for approval properly. For now, it is still in abeyance as a negotiation document. We have no wish to release it and if I do, then I am violating the agreement with the farmers, they will be very upset,” Prof Ncube said.
On the issue of the payment to the Dutch farmers, Prof Ncube added: “I am pleased that at least Hon. Markham is happy with the issue regarding the Dutch farmers.”
But Markham was not happy with the finance minister’s response on the payment of global funds for white farmers, questioning why the settlement was confidential.
“US$3.5 billion going to some 4 000 farmers who have been waiting 20 years for it and it is still confidential. We as a House need to know what is happening and what we are tying ourselves to for the future,” said the legislator, who indicated it was worrisome that the government had ‘numerous’ confidential loans.
“I do not accept any confidential agreement on a loan that I have paid taxes to. In my case, having lost a farm I am now paying tax to myself for that land which does not make sense.”
The finance minister said he would address some of the grey areas in a progress report to be presented later.