No special treatment for SA farmers

farmsHARARE South African landowners in Zimbabwe will not be given preferential treatment in the long-awaited Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) to be signed by the two countries, a cabinet minister said last week.

Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that there are no special provisions in the proposed BIPPA for South Africans with farms in Zimbabwe, saying farmers from across the Limpopo would have to apply for leases from the Harare authorities.

When you farm, it doesnt mean you should own the land. Everyone will be eligible for the 99-year leases which should give them the right to farm in Zimbabwe, Mangoma said in an interview aired on SABCs Metro FM.

Zimbabwe and South Africa are set to sign a long delayed bilateral investment protection agreement before the end the year.

Signing of the agreement between the countries that are each others biggest trading partner on the continent in addition to being strong political allies was postponed on the eleventh hour last March, apparently after Harare objected to a clause in the accord referring to land and investments on land.

South African investors have voiced concern over Harares chaotic indigenisation drive which started with the 2000 controversial programme to compulsorily seize land owned by former commercial farmers for redistribution to landless black.

The seizure of private land has raised questions about Zimbabwes commitment to uphold property rights as well as agreements entered with other countries.

Several South African farmers were caught up in the land blitz by Mugabes supporters.

Zimbabwes Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said that his government was prepared to sign BIPPAs with South Africa – or any other country – as long as they did not result in the reversal of land reform.

Claims by Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) ministers that the land reform programme benefits landless black people are however not borne out by the long list of beneficiaries of stolen commercial farms.

The so-called chefs involved in the ongoing and violent land grab are ministers, senior security force officers, Zanu (PF) Politburo members, their family members and judges.

The vast majority have no knowledge of, or interest in farming and many are fully employed in lucrative jobs.

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