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 five-year 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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