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Harare’s white farmers seek dialogue

Harare - Zimbabwean white farmers dispossessed of their farms under President Robert Mugabe's land reform laws are seeking dialogue with the government to help revive the country's ailing agricultural sector, their union said on Thursday.

“This solution must re-establish the basic fundamental foundations needed for rapid economic recovery and economic gain,” said Charles Taffs, president of the predominantly white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU).

The union is also proposing that a bond underwritten by a top global financier be created to compensate former white farmers for properties seized.

The controversial land reform introduced by Mugabe in 2000 to reverse colonial imbalances brought Zimbabwe's agricultural sector to its knees.

Over 4 000 white farmers were forcibly removed from their land and their farms given to landless blacks, many of them with no formal farming skills.

Mugabe has said Zimbabwe will compensate farmers for improvements made on their farms but not pay for land, saying Britain, the country's former colonial ruler must do so.

Since the land reforms were introduced over a decade ago, Zimbabwe has gone from being a net food importer to being unable to feed its population, leaving people dependent on aid.

“We at the CFU firmly believe that this situation need not continue and that a solution to this crisis can be found,” said Taffs.

Some dispossessed farmers are now plying their trade in neighbouring countries, and other groups have sought compensation through the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal. - Sapa-AFP

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