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World Bank Tribunal Tells Zimbabwe to Pay US$21M to Evicted Dutch Farmers

The international Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arm of the World Bank, has awarded US$21 million in compensation to 13 Dutch farmers whose land in Zimbabwe was expropriated by the Harare government.

Ruling April 22 in the case of Bernardus Henricus Funnekotter and others versus the Republic of Zimbabwe, the tribunal said Harare's bilateral agreement with the Netherlands obliges it to compensate the farmers in full for properties that were seized, including the land.

The Zimbabwean government is on record as saying that it will only compensate farmers who are dispossessed of their land for improvements such roads, buildings and reservoirs.

The previous Zimbabwean government under President Robert Mugabe brushed off a similar ruling by a tribunal of the Southern African Development Community finding for a group of 78 white farmers saying they had been denied due process under the law.

Under the current national unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have argued that such farm takeovers, which Mr. Mugabe has championed, must be halted because they drive away international investors.

Ongoing farm takeovers have thus become a volatile issue for the unity government.

Agricultural expert Mandla Nkomo, a former chairman of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that in any case even if the Harare government wanted to compensate the Dutch farmers, it lacks the means to do so.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe…