Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. File Photo:Shepard Tozvireva/African News Agency (ANA)

INTERNATIONAL - Zimbabwe is to start paying compensation this year to thousands of white farmers who lost land under former president Robert Mugabe's land reform programme nearly two decades ago, the government said. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government sees the paying of compensation to white farmers as key to mend ties with the West, and set aside $17.5million (R246.5m) in this year’s budget to that end. 

The initial payments will target those in financial distress, while full compensation will be paid later. “The registration process and list of farmers should be completed by the end of April 2019, after which the interim advance payments will be paid directly to former farm owners,” Zimbabwe’s ministries of finance and agriculture said in a joint statement yesterday. 

They said the process to identify and register farmers for compensation was being undertaken the Commercial Farmers Union and a committee representing the farmers. 

A committee comprising government officials and former farm owners was valuing improvements made on the farms. That process will determine the full amount due to the farmers.