- Zimbabwe has announced plans to return land taken during its land reform programme
- Numerous fatalities occurred during the seizures, which began two decades ago
- Now, the government has new legislation to compensate former landowners
Zimbabwe is moving to undo the controversial land reform programme it implemented in 2000.
Fin24 reports that the Zimbabwean government has gazetted new legislation allowing former landowners to choose between repossession or monetary compensation.
These new regulations will apply to both indigenous farmers and those whose land had been protected by treaties.
At the time of the land reform, South Africa and other countries had signed investment protection agreements to safeguard interests.
However, the new laws do not automatically grant former landowners compensation. Applications may be rejected "on the basis that granting it would be contrary to the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, regional or town planning or the general public interest".
The South African Embassy in Zimbabwe welcomed the decision to return the land to former owners, with a spokesperson commenting:
"We welcome the development, as we believe there is enough land waiting to be used. We think the position is in line with the mantra 'Zimbabwe is open for business'. While we don’t have the numbers, in terms of those likely to benefit, we have spoken to a number of South African farmers who already have their own funding to start agriculture activity in Zimbabwe, so this decision is welcome."
Briefly.co.za reported that Zimbabwe is currently facing a food crisis, with the United Nations stepping in to help feed the nation.
The UN World Food Programme intends to double the number of citizens it helps to 4.1 million, requiring over $200 million (R3.2 billion) to meet demand in the first half of the year.
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