Zimbabwe to return seized lands to evicted farmers

The government of Zimbabwe has offered to return land to foreign nationals whose farms were seized under a controversial government programme two decades ago. Between 2000 and 2001, thousands of white farmers were forced from their land. These evictions were often accompanied by violence.

In principle, these seizures were meant to redress colonial-era land grabs. However, they eventually contributed to the country's economic decline and ruined relations with the West. Now, a separate compensation scheme has been launched for local white farmers. They have not been offered land, but the government last month promised them $3.5bn for seized infrastructure.

The US has said compensating farmers is one of the requirements for it to lift decades of economic sanctions. It is hoped that hundreds of Europeans -mostly Dutch, British and German nationals- whose investments were protected under international agreements, will benefit from the offer, reports the BBC's Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare.

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