HomePoliticsGovt sets-up 7th land audit committee

Govt sets-up 7th land audit committee

Augustine Mukaro

A SEVENTH land audit committee has been established to come up with a list of new farmers eligible to sign 99-year-leases as government searches for a lasting solution to the chaotic land re

form programme.

Officials involved in the audit, led by State Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement minister in the President’s Office, Didymus Mutasa, said only A2 farmers that have the potential and are already productive would get the 99-year leases.

A copy of the 99-year lease agreement in the hands of the Zimbabwe Independent indicates that A2 farmers will now be charged rentals for land they lease from government.

New land beneficiaries will have to go through a rigorous vetting exercise and be required to produce a convincing five-year development plan and a production plan for a similar period before being allowed to lease state land.

The new requirements could see a number of non-performing chancers falling by the wayside.

President Robert Mugabe recently railed against “cellphone farmers” whom he accused of turning formerly productive white commercial farms into “weekend braai resorts”. He vowed to repossess such land and give it to those committed to farming although there have never been any publicised cases of forfeiture.

Government has been agonising over land wrested from white commercial farmers that has been lying idle. Some of the beneficiaries acquired large tracts of land as status symbols which they have not been able to put to production, resulting in current food shortages.

Last week, government repossessed a 3 000-hectare farm from Makonde MP, Leo Mugabe, alleging it was grossly underutilised.

In addition to paying rent, farmers will be required to pay all levies, fees and charges as may be determined by the local authority.

“An annual rental shall be payable on or before the 1st January of each and every year during the currency of this lease. The rental may be reviewed and increased annually by the lessor by such reasonable amount as the lessor may determine,” the document says.

The lease document requires the new farmer to submit a five-year development plan and another five-year production plan to the relevant planning authority for approval before the signing of the lease.

“The development plan should include provision of access roads suitably sited, constructed and protected against erosion as approved by the principal director responsible for Lands and Rural Resettlement,” the document says.

The lease bars people from subletting the farms to other operators without the approval of government.

“The lessee shall not cede, assign, hypothecate or otherwise alienate or sublet in whole or in part, or donate of his lease or any of his rights, or enter into partnership without the consent of the lessor in writing,” the document says.

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