More farms seized, Govt ignores treaties,

HARARE - Zimbabwe will expropriate more farms that are protected under bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements (BIPPA) signed with other countries for redistribution to landless blacks, according to Land
Reform Minister Didymus Mutasa.

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Mutasa, who was speaking last week at a co-ordinating meeting for heads of government departments in the eastern Manicaland province, said some BIPPAs, concluded before Zimbabwe was ostracised from the international community, were hurriedly negotiated and could not be allowed to stand in the way of land reforms.
“We will not stop acquiring the farms because they are under BIPPAs. We will acquire the farms and compensate the owners. I am sure these agreements were made in a hurry,” Mutasa said.
He did not say whether the government would pay for actual land as well, only saying that the government would address the “issue of farms under the BIPPAs on a case-by-case basis.”
The Harare administration, which has over the past six years seized nearly all land previously owned by the country’s about 4 000 white farmers and gave it over to blacks, has in the past maintained it would not pay for the land because white colonial authorities stole it from blacks in the first place.
The government has to date paid compensation to a handful of former white landowners and only for improvements on farms such as buildings, roads and dams.
But a group of Dutch nationals whose farms in Zimbabwe were seized by the government have dragged the Harare administration before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Paris demanding US$15 million in damages for the loss their properties.
The chaotic and often violent land reform programme – that Mugabe says was necessary to ensure blacks also owned some of the best land previously reserved for whites by former colonial governments – is blamed for destabilizing the mainstay agriculture sector and knocking down food production by about 60 percent.
Zimbabwe has largely survived largely on food handouts from international relief agencies since the land reforms began seven years ago. – ZimOnline

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