The new occupants of the farms say they can barely make ends meet, let alone pay an extra levy. Their agricultural output is a fraction of that before 2000 – when President Robert Mugabe introduced the land reforms that led to thousands of white farmers being evicted. The new farmers are also being hammered by Zimbabwe’s worst drought in 25 years and are toiling in a stagnating economy in which banks have become reluctant to lend and cheaper food imports from the likes of South Africa are undermining them.
“Are farmers able to pay? I will say ‘No’. Is the land being productive? I will say’No’ again,” said Victor Matemadanda, secretary-general of a group representing the self-proclaimed war veterans who led the land seizures in 2000 and now farm.The president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union, Abdul Nyathi, also said that his members would not be able to pay the compensation levy.