George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Government has warned that resettled farmers who default on their land rental payments risk punitive action.
In 2015, Government introduced land rental, with farmers resettled under the model A1 scheme paying $15 per annum, with $10 being rental and $5 as unit tax.
Those resettled under the model A2 scheme pay $3 rental per hectare annually and $2 unit tax per hectare every year.
Government wants production on farms for the country to be food self-sufficient and also spur economic growth in line with Vision 2030 by increasing agricultural exports to earn the country more hard currency.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Chief Air Marshall Perrance Shiri last week said farmers were supposed to pay their rentals to justify their continued stay on the land.
He said defaulting on the rental will only boomerang on the farmers as Government will still expect them to pay up irrespective of the size of the debt.
The rental was introduced to build a war chest to compensate white former commercial farmers who lost their land under the land reform programme for improvements on the land.
Part of the money is used to develop infrastructure in those areas for the resettled farmers.
Minister Shiri said Government will not hesitate to take appropriate action against defaulters.
‘‘My message to our farmers is that please pay up your rentals because to those who are not paying the debt will continue to go up and up and will eventually need to be settled, so please people must pay their dues,’’ he said.
‘‘We do not want to get to a stage where we will force each other to pay the money or end up repossessing that land and giving it to those who are serious.
‘‘A farmer who is doing something productive on his land should never have problems in paying his or her rental.’’
Minister Shiri said Government will continue to review the rentals, taking into cognisance concerns raised by farmers.
He said his ministry was looking into concerns raised by some farmers in Region 5 who complained about paying the same rental with their counterparts in Region 1 or 2, yet their returns per hectare were not the same because of different weather conditions.
‘‘We are looking into various issues raised by our farmers with regards to the rental and we will put into consideration whatever concerns our farmers raise so that at the end of the day we all benefit as a nation,’’ said Minister Shiri.
According to preliminary estimates, Government should rake in around $20 million annually from the rental.
Government is pooling resources to compensate white former farmers after Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa made an undertaking to pay the farmers their dues in line its re-engagement thrust.
Most resettlement areas also lack basic facilities such as schools, clinics, roads and portable water and part of the money raised from land rental will go towards providing such services.
An estimated 300 000 indigenous Zimbabweans were allocated land under the land redistribution programme which sought to rectify colonially-engineered inequities in land ownership that favoured a few whites.