Former farm owners who remained on compulsorily acquired land can now regularise their tenure while those who had offer letters can apply for 99 year leases as the Government moves to maximum agricultural production and productivity through collaborative efforts of all Zimbabweans, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said.
Addressing a joint press conference with the Minister of Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka yesterday, Prof Ncube said the Government is now moving towards providing an attractive land tenure system.
Former white commercial farmers, who recently signed a US$3,5 billion Global Compensation Deed (GCD) with the Government, were also represented.
Minister Ncube clarified the security of tenure for former farm owners still on the land, indigenous farmers and those that were farming under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and were affected during the land reform programme that redressed colonial land imbalances.
Prof Ncube said the Government’s highest priority in agriculture was to increase production and productivity through collaborative efforts of all Zimbabweans, including skills transfer from former farm owners to the resettled farmers and the provision of an attractive land tenure system supportive of increased levels of investment on agricultural land.
“Former farm owners on compulsorily acquired land should urgently regularise their tenure through designated Government institutions in the first instance, before consideration can be made for the issuance of 99-Year Leases. Former farm owners who already hold offer letters may proceed to apply for 99-Year Leases.
“Farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries which had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements or Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements, in terms of subsections (1) and (2) of Section 295 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“This category of former farm owners is not eligible for payment of compensation under the Global Compensation Agreement signed on July 29, 2020. Their compensation will be considered separately on a case by case basis. Through the Land Commission (Gazetted Land) (Disposal in Lieu of Compensation) Regulations (SI 62 of 2020), Government has already provided that these former farm owners can apply in writing to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement for restoration of title to the piece of agricultural land that was compulsorily acquired from them for resettlement,” he said.
Prof Ncube said the Government will grant land to the white former farmers if circumstances obtaining on the ground permit restoration.
To allow former farm owners in this category to regain possession of the land acquired from them, the Government will, in the appropriate circumstances, revoke offer letters of resettled farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land.
“Where the situation on the ground makes it impossible to restore land in this category to its former owners, the Government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available.
“Where a former farm owner under this category regains possession of the land that was previously acquired from them or accepts an offer by Government of land as restitution, this shall be in full and final settlement, or to the extent that may be mutually agreed with Government, of any claims for compensation from the State that the former farm owner may have.
“Where it is not possible or desirable for the State to restore the acquired land to its former owner or offer alternative land, the Government shall offer compensation to the former farm owner based on the same valuation methodology as was applied under the Global Compensation Deed,” he said.
Government has exempted fully utilised productive farms from downsizing until agricultural land under multiple farm ownership, derelict and or under-utilised has been brought into production.
“Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Provincial Lands Committees shall ensure strict adherence to this policy,” he said.
Minister Ncube expressed concern over an increase in illegal land occupations which are disrupting production.
“Such disorderly behaviour among our citizens is indiscipline of the highest level which the Government does not condone or tolerate. It should stop forthwith,” he said.
Lands Minister Anxious Masuka dismissed perceptions that the Government was backtracking on the land reform.
He said former farm owners were going to be compensated on the improvements they made but those under BIPPAs were going to get their land back.
“This allows us to move into production and productivity,” he said.
Former commercial farmers’ representative, Mr Nick Swanepoel said they appreciated what the Government had done.
“It has taken us a long time to get there. Every single farmer in Zimbabwe has made a commitment, it’s time for us to get up and produce. We cannot import food from South Africa and elsewhere. We have to boost production and productivity,” he said.
Government signed the Global Compensation Deed with former commercial farmers in the context of moving the Vision 2030 agenda forward so as to ensure its timely realisation through increased agricultural productivity, among other initiatives in the mining and tourism sector.