Twenty years later, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has effectively reversed his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s most divisive policy, land reform, by offering seized land back to foreign white farmers.
About 4,500 white commercial farmers lost their farms under Mugabe’s “fast track” land reform, which was characterised by violence and murder. Zimbabwe’s food output subsequently collapsed with successive droughts and corruption compounding the situation. Land became a political currency for the ruling Zanu-PF.
Farms meant to be protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) and owned by nationals of the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and SA were not spared by Mugabe.
But in a sudden change in policy to honour the BIPPAs, finance minister Mthuli Ncube on Monday said returning land to foreign white farmers through what Zimbabwe calls a Global Compensation Deed was a “major milestone in the restoration of trust and co-operation between the former farm owners and the government.”