In an interview from Harare, Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) Director Ben Gilpin told Africanfarming.com that while the union is not opposed to South African farmers investing and participating in the revival of agriculture in Zimbabwe, the government should give preference and protection to local farmers who lost finances and assets to the land reform programme.
“We are not opposed to South Africans, and indeed anyone from across the world coming to farm in Zimbabwe. But let us recognise the fact that there are many locals who want to restart farming, but lack resources because their finances and assets are tied up in pending compensation claims.
“They should not be left out. They should be given preference. While it is desirable to have foreign investors, it would be legitimate for locals to be dealt with first. The issue of compensation must also be resolved alongside the implementation of the new non-discriminatory land policy, which allows CFU members to get 99-year land leases,” Gilpin said.
Despite a week-old government order for the immediate issuing of 99-year leases to former white commercial farmers, Gilpin said an estimated 200 CFU members are still waiting for changes to the basic land access policy.
“The law still states that only those with offer letters have access to land. We want to see if our members will get those offer letters. The land policy should be implemented in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent manner,” Gilpin said.
The union said it has credible information on the activities of people who have been advertising on social media, claiming they can help South African farmers move to Zimbabwe. Among other services, the advertisers allegedly claim they can facilitate access to land and security of tenure.
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