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President Mnangagwa mourns commercial farmer Swanepoel

President Mnangagwa

President Mnangagwa expressed condolences yesterday, honouring Mr Nick Swanepoel’s pivotal and progressive contribution to seeking a peaceful resolution to Zimbabwe’s land issue. He praised Swanepoel’s calm demeanour and involvement in rectifying the historically imbalanced land distribution, which disadvantaged native Zimbabweans. The government will determine the assistance for the Swanepoel family once burial arrangements are finalized.

“I was acutely distressed and deeply saddened to receive yesterday news of the death in South Africa of Mr Nick Swanepoel, a long-time leader of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU),” said the President.

“A veteran farmer and leader, Zimbabwe remembers and mourns the late Nick Swanepoel for his role as a key and progressive player in the search for an amicable, negotiated settlement to the vexatious and historically-rooted Zimbabwean land question.

“From 2000 when the struggle for the recovery of our land entered a decisive phase, Nick and like-minded progressive white farmers kept their heads, and tirelessly pushed for a non-confrontational and non-political approach to the land question, even calling for the removal of the then right-wing CFU executive, led by Tim Henwood, which they correctly saw as an obstacle to a just resolution of the land question.”

President Mnangagwa said true to his conciliatory, mature and realistic approach, Mr Swanepoel and his group tabled to Government land resettlement proposals as early as in 2001, which called upon white commercial farmers to not only endorse and cede land which Government needed for resettlement, but also to participate in the actual resettlement of landless Zimbabweans through helping new black farmers.

While the proposals by Mr Swanepoel’s progressive group of white farmers failed to win the immediate support of hardliners then in control of the CFU and other splinter organisations representing white farmers, subsequent turn of events showed the futility of headstrong resistance by the hardline white farmers, while vindicating his conciliatory approach, which today wins him a proud place in the annals of post-colonial land settlement models, said the President.

“Always an honest, hopeful and diligent actor straddling across the colonially-derived racial divide, Nick remained seized and engaged in the search for lasting settlement and closure to the national land question,” he said.

President Mnangagwa implored the nation to recommit to the vision of a non-racial society as the country mourns and remembers Mr Swanepoel, a great figure of post-independence racial conciliation through just settlement.

All Zimbabweans, he added, should deepen and entrench the vision for a just, non-racial society in which colour, creed or tribe never counts or matters in daily lives and engagements. After a successful land reform, Government under the leadership of President Mnangagwa signed the agreement that committed to compensate white ex-famers for US$3,5 billion for land development, and the commitment still stands.

“The result was the historic Global Compensation Deed, which Government and the CFU signed on 29th July, 2020, after more than two years of hard negotiations, and in which both sides agreed to a figure of US$3,5 billion as compensation to white farmers for improvements on acquired land, as required by our Constitution,” said President Mnangagwa.

“My Government remains committed to fulfilling the dictates of that deed, and continues to make yearly budgetary allocations towards it.

“The late Mr Swanepoel’s life thus presses home the message that only a just, collaborative and conciliatory approach resolves outstanding issues emanating from the baneful legacy of settler colonialism, a legacy which confronts our Southern African region.

“No amount of political wiles, vexatious litigations or intransigent forum-shopping ever delivers an amicable resolution to this one question which persists in our region, even after political Independence.

“On behalf of Government, my family and my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Swanepoel family on this their saddest loss,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said it is a loss that everyone keenly feels and shares, since Mr Swanepoel “was one of us”.

Source: Herald

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