Farms up for redistribution: Minister Mombeshora
GOVERNMENT is repossessing farms from unproductive land reform beneficiaries and redistributing them to land-hungry Zimbabweans to optimise agricultural production.
The Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry has notified 38 farmers, mainly in Mashonaland East, that it will soon revoke offer letters giving them title to land.
Provincial lands committees are also on the ground inspecting farms in their respective jurisdictions with a view to weeding out unproductive property-holders.
Further, disproportionately large farms are being rationalised, with expert teams combing through districts using a central database.
The Sunday Mail understands some farmers are voluntarily requesting the teams to downsize their properties after failing to unlock their optimal value.
Lands Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora told this paper that there were more than 500 000 applicants awaiting resettlement.
President Mugabe has explained that the reallocations and downsizing are not a reversal of land reforms, but rather an enhancement of them as Government proceeds with its massive investment in revitalising agriculture.
The investment in agriculture has included pouring millions into production via the Presidential Well-Wishers Inputs Support Scheme and Command Agriculture.
Dr Momneshora said, “What we are doing is part of farm rationalisation in line with Government policy to ensure maximum usage of all agriculture land in the country.
“We have been flighting notices in newspapers where we are advising offer letter holders who are not using their land that we intend to cancel those offer letters.
“What we are doing now is identifying farms and plots where land is not being utilised at all or not being used to its potential with a view to distributing it to others.
“In terms of the law, we have the option of sending letters to the offer letter holder’s given home address, their farms or publishing a notice in a national newspaper, advising them of our intention. But what we are doing across the country right now is send out teams, led by provincial lands officers, to inspect farms in order to ascertain whether they are being utilised or not.
“In cases where the farm is very large and is being underutilised, we have the option of downsizing; that is taking back part of the farm with a view of giving it to others.
“In cases where the land is not being utilised at all, we have the option of withdrawing the offer letter. This is all part of the broader Farm Rationalisation Programme, which Government is implementing as part of the finalisation of the Land Reform Programme.”
Over 14 million hectares of land has been redistributed to indigenous farmers since 1980.
An audit by a Government-appointed committee in 2015 showed that several top State officials, including ministers, have vast swathes of land and some are failing to fully utilise them.
The audit revealed that 70 farms in Midlands far exceeded the maximum recommended sizes of 500ha.