Compensation For White Farmers, A Misplaced Priority: Youths

MUTARE– Youths in Manicaland province question government’s move to compensate former white commercial farmers, saying this was another debt which has been surreptitiously saddled on citizens.

They urged government to persue progressive tax systems which finance realization of socio-economic rights like healthcare, water, education, shelter and decent Jobs, instead of burdening citizens.

The youths were speaking during Youth and Tax Justice a virtual conference organized by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, (ZIMCODD) to discuss constitutional and legal frameworks on taxation and public resource management and the nexus between tax justice human rights and gender equality.

ZIMCODD engaged the youths under a running Tax Justice campaign which seeks to promote social accountability and transparency in public finance management in Public Finance Management.

Government on Wednesday agreed to pay US$3.5bn in compensation to white farmers whose land was reallocated but youths said this unveiled plan was another looming financial debt which would burden citizens.

The agreement signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa shows that white farmers will be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, receiving 50 percent after a year and the balance within five years.

Ironically Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube says it does not have the money and will issue long-term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

“In the agreement we have given ourselves 12 months to run around the world, around Zimbabwe to think of ways of raising this funding. We are determined that we achieve that. It’s also about pledges not necessarily about cash being put on the table. It’s about commitment,” said Ncube.

Youths were however critical, “Government availed its plan to repay former white farmers money amounting to over 3 billion, this is something arising and about to be implemented. We continue to repay politically related compensation at the expense of an already overburdened citizenry.

“We need a public conscious mission on this, at a time when we have a lot of social vulnerability. This is poor prioritizing by the government,” said one youth.

Nqobizitha Mlambo, ZIMCODD Programmes Assistant said there was need for the state to address this yearning for a tax system which promotes transparency and accountability in the management of the national purse.

He said while ZIMCODD has not yet analyzed the agreement to pass its position on the issue of compensation, the end result of this move would see ordinary citizens who did not benefit from the land reform program ultimately paying this debt.

“This is a debt that that has been created in my own opinion it’s going to lead to more debt and it means that even ordinary citizens who did not enjoy those improvements ultimately paying. In my opinion this is wrong, compensation of farmers because it’s another burden that will be met ultimately by citizens.

“It’s the 2 percent taxes that will go towards this compensation yet when the settler came in they did not compensate for the improvements on our land.

“We need to move towards a tax system that redistributes wealth from the rich through a wealth income tax a system that is progressive and not regressive. The burden of taxation must be shared and revenue should finance service delivery in the country,” said Mlambo.

Other youths said the payment of white colonial farmers although provided for in the constitution was a desperate attempt by the New Dispensation to curry favor with the international community to save their political careers.

 

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