Obert Chifamba and Elita Chikwati
GOVERNMENT has adopted a natio-nal policy to either repossess or downsize idle or under-utilised land for redistribution to the landless.
Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister Advocate Martin Dinha yesterday said Government was not going back on repossessing land from underperforming farmers.
His remarks come in the wake of the repossession of land from farmers at Calgary Farm in Mazowe which was then allocated to Kombo Moyana Junior, son to former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Kombo Moyana and another farmer, Georgina Brown.
Some of the farmers at Calgary Farm had their farms downsized while one of them, Martin Sibindi, was removed.
“What happened at Calgary Farm is part of the rationalisation process Government has embarked on to ensure that all designated farms are fully utilised.
“It is our land policy that anyone who has not taken up the allocated land will have the offer letter withdrawn and the land given to other farmers willing to use it productively,” he said.
Adv Dinha said there were 120 000 applicants for A2 farms in the province who were yet to be allocated land.
“President Robert Mugabe is on record as saying farmers not utilising land should be removed and once he says something, it becomes a policy.
“There is no going back on this thrust and offer letters will continue to be issued out as long as there are people who still need land,” he said.
Offer letters, he said, were issued after recommendations from the district, provincial land committees and the acquiring authority to the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
“Land should be allocated according to production levels, land utilisation capacity and resources available.
“This is not only going to happen to A2 farmers, but to A1 farmers also. I am concerned with people who own large hectares of land but are not fully utilising it,” he said.
Adv Dinha urged those not fully utilising land to surrender part of the farms for redistribution to other deserving people.
“Land is for the benefit of all Zimbabweans and should not be used as a status symbol.
“We cannot have a situation whereby a country goes hungry yet there are people with huge farms but not utilising the resource,” he said.
Adv Dinha said the ongoing rationalisation process was not only happening at Calgary Farm, but had also been done at Dawmill Farm, Uronga Estate and Galloway Estates in the district.
“We had to withdraw an offer letter from the Bindura University and subdivided the farm to accommodate many small-scale farmers. The university will be allocated another farm elsewhere.
“This shows that the process is being done to correct anomalies incurred during the fast-track land resettlement programme,” he said.
He said the land committee was now resolving the Calgary Farm dispute.
“The farmers have forwarded their appeal to the lands committee and they will certainly make a resolution on the matter to allow the farmers to continue their operations in a more organised manner,” he said.
But the affected farmers have remained adamant that they were being unfairly treated.
“I’m surprised that Dr Moyana was given an offer letter for an occupied piece of land that is under production. How can the land be double allocated? He has vast swathes of land and this is the only land I have,” said one of the farmers.
“I have nowhere to go and my project is in jeopardy. I have invested lots of money and now I cannot even plan anything as I can be displaced from this area any day.”
The farmer said he had invested more than US$50 000.