Zimbabwe has ratified 17 Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) as it commits to protect investors, 22 years after it watched as land under protection was seized during the fast track land reform exercise.
Zimbabwe is under pressure from the international community to compensate for land seized despite being protected under BIPPAs as it seeks to shed its bad boy tag and be readmitted into a club of nations.
Fredrick Shava, Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister, recently told delegates in the capital that the honouring of the BIPPAS is an intervention by the government to assure the investors of its commitment to respect property rights.
“To date, the country has signed BIPPAS with 33 countries and out of these 17 had been ratified. The Foreign Affairs ministry continues to support and facilitate the process of ratification of the remaining BIPPAS,” Shava said.
He said Zimbabwe was “fully committed” to addressing issues of the promotion and protection of investments in the country as it pursues economic diplomacy and reaffirmation of engagement and re-engagement to advance the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1.
As part of efforts towards compensation for BIPPAs or BIPPA farms acquired during the land reform programme, the government enacted Statutory Instrument 62 of 2020 which creates a platform for the affected farmers to have their land returned.
“Currently, through SI62 of 2020, a total of 55 applications have been received and of which 10 were cleared for issuance of 99-year leases whilst three have been sent for registration.
“The remaining 41 are either earmarked for compensation or yet to be considered by the Land Committee,” Shava said.
According to the laws of the country, the highest title of agricultural land is the 99-year lease.
But the 99-year leases recorded a slow uptake by the affected farmers as they fear that in its current state, it is not bankable and transferable.
Shava said efforts are being made to ensure the 99-year leases are bankable.
It is understood that out of the 153 farms which were protected under the BIPPAs, 116 were forcibly taken by the government during the land reform programme.