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Zimbabwe: AfDB to help compensate white farmers without increasing debt burden

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 18:56
Zimbabwe: AfDB to help compensate white farmers without increasing debt burden

(Ecofin Agency) - Recently, the 4,500 white large landowners forcibly evicted from their land under former President Robert Mugabe's land reform program turned down a compensation proposal made by the current government. The proposal offered to compensate them with treasury bonds over 10 years.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced, Monday, it would help Zimbabwe compensate white farmers who were evicted from their land under former President Robert Mugabe's regime without adding to the debt burden.

We are currently working with the minister of finance and the government of Zimbabwe to develop a financial instrument that [...] will help leverage the capital markets to fund the compensation, without adding debt to Zimbabwe,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina (photo) told the press at the end of a round of negotiations between the Zimbabwean government and its creditors on the clearance of debt arrears. He did not, however, provide further details on these financial instruments.

Mr. Adesina's announcement comes after white farmers recently rejected a new proposal to compensate them through treasury bills over ten years.

In July 2020, the Zimbabwean government signed an agreement with the expropriated white landowners to compensate them to the tune of $3.5 billion.

The owners to be compensated are the about 4,500 large white landowners evicted from their lands, in the 2000s, as part of the land reform initiated by former President Robert Mugabe.

The reform was aimed at correcting inequalities inherited from British colonization, but the redistribution of land mostly benefited those close to the regime and went to farmers with no equipment or training. This caused a sudden collapse in agricultural production and a severe economic crisis that prompted Harare to stop repaying its debt to international backers.

Zimbabwe, a country of nearly 16 million people, still has foreign debts estimated at more than $14 billion. Still without the support of international backers, the southern African country is struggling to secure new credit lines and attract foreign investment to revive its economy.  Compensation for expropriated white farmers is one of the conditions set by the country's main creditors for accepting a debt arrears clearance program.

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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