Zimbabwe on Thursday marks 39 years of independence from Britain as the government pledges to compensate former white farmers who lost their land to previously landless blacks during land reforms.
The Zimbabwean government recently announced that it would soon start paying interim advance payments to former white commercial farmers as compensation for improvements on their former land.
The move will most likely go a long way in thawing relations between Zimbabwe on the one hand and Britain and the European Union on the other.
The former farmers have since started registering for the compensation after the government availed 53 million RTGS dollars (a new transitional currency) in the 2019 budget for the program.
Land was at the center of the majority black Zimbabweans’ struggle for independence as a few thousand white farmers occupied the best farming land while blacks were huddled in tribal trust lands with generally poor soils.
The independence anniversary comes at a time the nation is still grappling with the effects of Cyclone Idai which ravaged some eastern, southern and central parts of the country mid-March, resulting in at least 344 deaths.
The government has since launched an international appeal for at least 612 million U.S. dollars for food, shelter and reconstruction of critical infrastructure, including water and sanitation.
The cyclone has also had a telling effect on the country’s economy which has been under-performing for years.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last week that in view of the disaster, it intends to expedite the implementation of the forthcoming Staff Monitored Program for Zimbabwe to boost government efforts to turn around the economy.
Zimbabwe and the IMF agreed on steps that will pave way for the SMP, which entails the monitoring of the country’s economic targets and policies by the financial institution with successful completion of the program helping in the country’s re-engagement drive.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the institution was ready to support Zimbabwe’s economic reform program through the SMP.
“And it is particularly appropriate that we do that expeditiously, given the hardship and the loss caused by the recent cyclone,” she told a press conference in Washington on the sidelines of the IMF spring meetings.
Zimbabwean citizens are currently suffering from depleted buying power as prices of basic commodities continue to rise while incomes remain stagnant.
Prices have risen by between 25 and 75 percent in recent weeks while the rate of inflation was at 59.39 percent at the end of March.