‘UK won’t fund land reform now’

May 18, 2012 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Owen Gagare

BRITAIN’S Ambassador to Zimbabwe Deborah Bronnert  says she does
not see her country funding Zimbabwe’s land reform programme in the near
future despite an agreement by the three political parties to Zimbabwe’s
Global Political Agreement for the country’s former coloniser to pay
compensation for land acquired during the chaotic land reform exercise.
Article 5.9 (d) of the GPA says the parties hereby agree to: “call upon the
United Kingdom government to accept the primary responsibility to pay
compensation for land acquired from former land owners for resettlement”.

In their review of the GPA in April last year, party negotiators also called
on the three principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to write to the
British Prime Minister asking for his country to pay compensation to those
farmers whose land was acquired.

Bronnert, however, said although her country initially assisted Zimbabwe
with its land reform programme, it had never accepted liability for the
programme and would therefore not pay, more so considering that the
programme did not benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

“Well, we were not parties to the GPA, this was a Zimbabwean agreement and
we have never accepted liability to fund land reform although we did
actually provide some funds for land reform, soon after Independence. I
think it was £44 million which we paid,” she said.

Britain partly funded the land reform programme when it was based on the
willing buyer  –– willing seller concept but stopped in the early 1990s when
the government announced it would compulsorily acquire land.

Bronnert said Britain has always believed there was a need for land reform
in Zimbabwe to address historical imbalances and ensure more equity to the
land distribution.

“But we do have a problem with the way the land reform was undertaken and we
feel it was unfair to the individuals affected. It had a terrible impact
both on those running and managing the farms, those working on the farms and
the wider Zimbabwean economy,” said Bronnert.

“At some point I think we are likely to…support a future settlement but I
think we are a long way from it and it will require quite a big political
shift and a political settlement here for that to be taken forward,” she
said.

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