Zimbabwe’s government plans to hand back “a mere” 37 farms to foreign nationals covered by international agreements, the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.

The farms were taken under the controversial land reform programme initiated by then-President Robert Mugabe to tackle colonial-era land grabs.

The government had no intention of reversing the land reform programme, but it had an “obligation” to consider its own constitution as well international treaties and agreements, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka was quoted as saying.

Indigenous farmers, who were dispossessed of their properties during the land reform programme, would also be given the opportunity to get their land back or to accept compensation, the Herald reported.

In total, a “minute proportion” – 3.2% – of “beneficiaries” of the land reform programme would be affected by the latest decisions, Mr Masuka was quoted as saying.

The US has said compensating farmers is one of the requirements for it to lift economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

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