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Zimbabwe’s Elaborate Plan to Compensate Farmers

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to pull a very big rabbit out of a tiny hat with an agreement to pay roughly $3.5bn in compensation to white farmers who were evicted from their land under the redistribution programme of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, two decades ago. The main problem with this ruse is that the state doesn’t have the money to pay the farmers. The compensation — half of which is supposed to be paid within 12 months, and the rest in four annual instalments — is only for infrastructure and improvements, not the actual land. So the government plans to raise the money from an issue of long-term bonds. It will also, as Reuters lugubriously put it, “jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding”. This means the same farmers who lost their farms will play the role of supplicants for money that the president of the country that took their farms has promised them.