CFU welcomes BIPPA statement But evictions continue

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) has welcomed the recent government statements on Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection (BIPPA)-protected properties. “We see this as a very positive and constructive move on behalf of government in re-establishing a strong investor environment in the agricultural sector,” says the union in a statement.

“However after 14 years of agricultural disturbance and upheaval in the commercial farming sector, we unfortunately still see this trend continuing despite these recent statements by government. Our farmers continue to be evicted despite presidential proclamations that the land reform programme is now complete.

“They continue to be extorted by politically-connected opportunists, many forced into unfair partnerships based on racial prejudice, others forced into paying individuals directly in order for them to continue farming. Some of our farmers as we speak are having their crops reaped by third parties, who have not had anything to do with the financial investment or growing of these crops,” says the CFU.

Farming stoppages continue unabated, and in recent weeks the union has recorded an increase in racial rhetoric and open threats being made to members in many parts of the country.

Government, through its own admission, has made no real progress in settling long-outstanding claims for the businesses compulsorily acquired during the land reform programme; neither has it made any progress in the establishment of new tradable tenure systems, leaving agriculture in a state of apprehension and under performance.

“The government is currently trying to promote to international investors a climate of investment security in an attempt to attract the much-needed foreign direct investment into our country. We fully support these efforts, however through the continued actions on the ground, particularly in the agricultural sector, this flies in the face of such proclamations,” says the CFU.

It also claims to have put forward pragmatic solutions to resolve the conflict surrounding land, land ownership and land usage which, if implemented, would settle the past and ignite the future. But progress continues to be hampered by the ongoing, inappropriate and illegal actions of a few.

“We urge government as a matter of urgency and national interest to finalise this programme in a fair and pragmatic manner so that our country can once again build a strong economy around a robust, diversified agricultural sector,” says the CFU.

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