PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday defended his government’s move to compensate white former commercial farmers for improvements on farmland seized during the 2000 fast-track land reform programme, saying the decision was a constitutional requirement.
Addressing a Zanu PF national youth indaba in Harare, Mnangagwa said he would not reverse the decision because the land redistribution programme was also irreversible.
This came after South Africa’s firebrand opposition Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema on Wednesday accused Mnangagwa of reversing the gains of the liberation struggle by bowing to international pressure and pledging to compensate the dispossessed white farmers.
Malema charged that the farmers deserved no compensation because they “stole the land from the locals”.
“In agriculture, the land reform programme is irreversible and section 72 of the Constitution is very clear in this regard. However, the same Constitution provides that no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition, Mnangagwa said.
He added: “For a long time, government has provided through the fiscus for such payments in respect of the said compensation on improvements of the land. Government will meet its obligations as outlined in the Constitution. But for the avoidance of doubt, we fought for land and there is no way we will retract our position with regards the land reform (programme). Neither will we betray our fellow comrades who lie in marked and unmarked graves, who paid the supreme sacrifice for this land.”
Speaking at the same event, Zanu PF youth secretary Pupurai Togarepi said Malema had no right to criticise the Zimbabwe government’s policies.
“Malema must know that as a people of Zimbabwe the land question is behind us. We have our land and we don’t need anybody from anywhere to tell us anything. He has to go back to school and we advise that he goes back to the ANC (African National Congress), a more progressive revolutionary party so that he remains an African.”
The ruling party youth leader vowed to roll out a programme to economically empower their peers through various agricultural programmes.
Mnangagwa urged the youths to utilise the innovation hubs set up a various public institutions of higher learning as well as the India-Africa Incubation Hub centre in Harare for economic empowerment.
The Zanu PF leader also expressed concern over the spiralling cost of living, adding that he would soon summon captains of industry to explain the current hikes in prices of most basic goods.
“Government notes the present wanton, upsurge and ever escalating unjustified increase in prices,” Mnangagwa said.
“We urge compatriots in industry, business and commerce to desist from this inhumane trend which has brought untold suffering and misery to our people. Government is in the process of meeting stakeholders in the sector for discussions around the issue.
“We cannot have the continued exploitation of our people by those who exhibit rent-seeking behaviour.”