MYSTERY surrounds latest moves by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph Made to continue compulsorily acquiring land despite a Land Audit Commi
ttee having presented its report to President Robert Mugabe marking the completion of the programme.
The committee, headed by former Secretary to cabinet and President Mugabe, Charles Utete, last week handed in its findings which are being kept under lock and key.
Made on Wednesday published a list of 71 farms to be compulsorily acquired in terms of Subsection (1) of Section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:101).
This section allows President Mugabe to acquire compulsorily any piece of land he desires for government’s resettlement programme.
In an advertisement for the acquisitions flighted in the Herald Made said any owner or occupier or any other person who had an interest and right in the said land and who wished to object to the compulsory acquisition could lodge his objections with his ministry in writing before October 17.
Analysts said this made a mockery of the whole land deal and its transparency because individuals who did not appear on the Utete list could now snap up land that was being advertised by Made.
The minister was said to be in constant meetings when a comment was sought from him on the issue.
Several prominent individuals and high profile companies are to have their land taken up by government in the latest move, largely seen as the last phase of the controversial fast track land resettlement programme.
Farms to be snapped up by Made in the latest swoop include those belonging to the Oppenheimer Ranches (Pvt) Ltd, a cash rich family with diversified investments in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
Made also intends to take away land belonging to Leibigs Zimbabwe Ltd, a Matabeleland-based company that supplies beef to the financially beleaguered Cold Storage Company, Willdale Ltd in respect of land situated in Harare, as well as the Trustees for Time Being of Banket Sports Club for its lucrative piece of land in Lomagundi.
Another high profile piece of land to be taken over is Lilfordia Estates (Pvt) Ltd for its Sunnyside Farm.
Meanwhile, government says the agriculture sector has continued to be adversely affected by the recurrence of drought, fuel problems, high input costs, shortages of foreign currency and agricultural inputs.
It said this had resulted in a marked decline in most of the major sub sectors.
“Agriculture is expected to recover by 2,3% this year, largely due to some improvement in the maize crop,” government said in a document.