Speedy re­lease of 99-year leases

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Levi Mukarati

THE Gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to­wards of­fer­ing 99-year farm leases once a ben­e­fi­ciary is ap­proved to oc­cupy a piece of land to en­able them to use the doc­u­ment in se­cur­ing fund­ing for agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

Min­is­ter of Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora yes­ter­day said that the move was part of mea­sures that also in­clude of­fer­ing re­new­able five-year leases to white farm­ers still hold­ing onto the land, but with a track record of good pro­duc­tion.

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to ques­tions from chiefs at­tend­ing their two day An­nual Chiefs Con­fer­ence that ended in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day.

“The law says one can get an of­fer let­ter and only gets a 99-year lease after three years upon as­sess­ment by Gov­ern­ment to ver­ify lev­els of pro­duc­tion and in­fras­truc­ture that would have been de­vel­oped on that piece of land dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view,” said Dr Mombeshora.

“But we have re­fined the lease to be bank­able and it de­fies logic to give the lease after three years and upon see­ing pro­duc­tion be­cause there will not be any pro­duc­tion as the farmer would have failed to get fund­ing.

“There­fore, farm­ers need the lease first so that they ac­cess fund­ing from the banks. We are look­ing at en­sur­ing that farm­ers get 99-year leases at the time they go onto the land or are ap­proved to oc­cupy a piece of land.”

Dr Mombeshora said a ma­jor­ity of white farm­ers who re­mained on farms after the fast track land re­form ex­er­cise did not have le­gal doc­u­ments de­spite some of them be­ing pro­duc­tive.

He said his min­istry in con­sul­ta­tion with pro­vin­cial lands of­fi­cers would soon is­sue five-year re­new­able leases to the white farm­ers.

“There are white farm­ers who have been ap­proved by our pro­vin­cial of­fi­cers to con­tinue farm­ing after sat­is­fy­ing a num­ber of re­quire­ments,” said the min­is­ter.

“We will be giv­ing such farm­ers fiveyear leases that are sub­ject to re­newal upon meet­ing cer­tain con­di­tions at the ex­piry of the doc­u­ments.

“This will en­able us to col­lect land taxes from these farm­ers.”

Dr Mombeshora said the Gov­ern­ment was con­cerned over the in­crease in cases of lo­cal farm­ers who were en­gag­ing in joint farm­ing ven­tures with­out Gov­ern­ment ap­proval.

“Part­ner­ships on farms, be they with lo­cals or for­eign­ers are pro­vided for by the law, but they should be ap­proved by the Min­istry of Lands (and Re­set­tle­ment).

“There are many cases of these un­ap­proved deals that have come to the at­ten­tion of the min­istry.

“We have di­rected pro­vin­cial land com­mit­tees to in­ves­ti­gate such cases as they con­duct the cur­rent ex­er­cise on land au­dit.

“We do not want a sit­u­a­tion where we re­pos­sess land from a white farmer and then wake up to see that farmer back again in the dis­guise of a part­ner­ship.”

The min­is­ter said the pro­gramme to au­dit farm sizes was on­go­ing and any re­duc­tion of farm sizes would be con­ducted upon rec­om­men­da­tion from re­ports from district lands of­fi­cers.

The chiefs’ con­fer­ence which was opened by Pres­i­dent Mugabe yes­ter­day was also at­tended by Vi­cePres­i­dents Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.

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