Speedy re­lease of 99-year leases

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Levi Mukarati in Bulawayo

GOV­ERN­MENT will is­sue 99-year leases as soon as an in­di­vid­ual gets ap­proval to oc­cupy com­mer­cial farm land to en­able farm­ers to ac­cess fund­ing.

Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora said five-year leases would also be of­fered to white farm­ers.

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to ques­tions from Chiefs at the An­nual Na­tional Coun­cil of Chiefs Con­fer­ence in Bulawayo yes­ter­day.

“The law says one can get an of­fer let­ter and only get 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 the ma­jor­ity of white farm­ers who re­mained on farms af­ter land re­form did not have le­gal doc­u­ments, though be­ing pro­duc­tive.

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

“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.”

On un­ap­proved part­ner­ships, Dr Mombeshora said, “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.

“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 land au­dit.

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

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