The US$3,5 billion owed to former commercial farmers for farm improvement as agreed under the Global Political Agreement will be paid by Government and resettled farmers will not be roped in to help meet the bill, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube stressed in reply to Parliamentary questions.
“Government does not intend to request the new resettled farmers to pay for compensation to former farmers; that is not the arrangement. They will have their farms and it is Government that will make all arrangements to pay the former farmers for the improvements on those farms.
“The deed will be brought to Parliament once farmers have signed the full session agreement which will then turn this deed into a full debt of Government, in which case I will have to bring it before this House in terms of the Public Debt Management Act. Once we get to that stage, I will bring it to Parliament. We are not yet there. It has not become a debt of Government yet,” he said.
Minister Ncube said progress had been made towards fulfilling the requirements under the agreement.
“We selected the company that will act as a financial advisor which will advise Government on how to raise resources using various financial instruments, both domestically and globally. Very soon we should be able to announce the company once we have signed on the bottom of the last page.
“At least we have gotten to that stage,” he said.
He said considerable progress had also been made building confidence measures around the deed of settlement.
“This pertains to issues such as offer letters to farmers, issues of encouraging farmers, those who are eligible to apply for 99 year leases and so forth so that we as Government, we then show that we are very serious about working together with farmers. So, we are making very good progress on that.
“In terms of the deadline and the various timelines, the deed is very clear. It says that a month or so before we are due to deliver the first payment, we should inform the farmers in terms of where we are and in terms of progress.
“If need be, we can negotiate for the date to be extended; it is all enshrined in the agreement. So once we get to that trigger point, we will consult with the farmers, there are enough provisions in the agreement — enough flexibility for us to make certain extensions in terms of the payment requirement,” he said.
The Global Compensation Deed signed between Government and representatives of white former commercial farmers closed the chapter on land reform.
This will see 4 000 white commercial farmers who lost their farms during land reform sharing US$3,5 billion compensation for improvements, although there is no compensation for the actual land.