SENIOR Zanu PF and government officials whose farms are lying idle risk losing the large tracts of land they got under the chaotic land reform programme as the state prepares for a land audit scheduled for next year.
In an interview, Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora said government will either downsize or take back land being underutilised.
He said government will appoint independent auditors to carry out the land audit which will involve visits to each and every farm.
The audit, if conducted as transparently as planned, is expected to flash out senior Zanu PF and government officials who are multiple farm owners in violation of government’s one-person-one-farm policy.
Mombeshora said: “The proper land audit which has not started will mean farm-to-farm visits. There will be verification to see the real owner. Some people were given farms but abandoned them.
“People will go to these farms and we want to see whoever is there and take their details. We will record which plot is occupied, which one is not. What are you planting, the number of crops, animals? We want to see production. If you are not farming we want to understand why. We want to establish those using the farms properly and those not.”
The minister also said he had the power to withdraw offer letters given to people underutilising the farms.
“Already I have downsized some farms. If you are doing nothing, we will take it (land) and if you are subletting we will also take it. We have already done that in Makonde, Zvimba and we are planning to do that in Mashonaland Central,’ said Mombeshora.
In January, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister Responsible for Crops and Mechanisation, Davis Marapira was quoted by the state media as saying about 20 Arda farms are lying idle with only Chisumbanje viable.
Kintyre Estates, a leading dairy producer which used to supply up to 100 000 litres of milk per month, is another example of a farm now lying idle after a failed ambitious project to turn the farm into commercial and housing plots.
In addition to the money being provided by the European Union, United Nations Development Programme and World Bank, Mombeshora said the rest of the money would be raised internally from the farmers.