Only 500 out of 23 000 A2 farmers have been issued 99-year leases because the process was very cumbersome and it has now been changed, Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka told Parliament yesterday.
He said that initially, a farmer had to get an A2 offer letter. After five years on the property and of development, the farmer would opt to apply for a 99-Year Lease and pay an assessment fee. That assessment fee would enable the Department of Lands to go on to the property and do an assessment.
This was changed when the Land Commission Act was promulgated. A 99-year lease could no longer be issued without reference to the Zimbabwe Land Commission.
“Madam Speaker, through this cumbersome process, we have issued under 500 99-Year Leases of the 23 000 A2 farmers,” Masuka said.
The process was changed last year as follows:
“First, the offer letter was merely a piece of paper, we then issued a securitised A2 permit. All new offers for the land are now securitised A2 permits which would allow farmers some security of tenure. All A2 farmers automatically qualify for 99-Year Leases now. No one needs to apply for a 99- Year Lease and this is the policy position of Government.
“We introduced what we call the production and productivity return form. It is an annual production and productivity form which A1 and A2 farmers should complete and an assessment team assesses the level of production and productivity on the farm and recommends for the automatic issuance of a 99-Year Lease.
“This process will start this year, 2023 and we have said farmers ought to complete the production and productivity returns by the 31st March, 2023. This enables them to be assessed for such. This is the correct position in relation to 99-Year Leases,” he said
HON. BRIG. GEN (RTD.) MAYIHLOME: My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. There were farms that were wrongly gazetted belonging to indigenous farmers. These farms were supposed to be delisted and reallocated back to the original owners but this has taken close to 20 years to be done. What is holding back the reallocation or delisting of these farms.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Thank you Madam Speaker and I thank Hon. Mayihlome for the question. In 2020, Government put in place Statutory Instrument 62 which provided a legal basis for consideration for the return of such properties to affected farmers. The Ministry established a Committee to consider applications as per Statutory Instrument 62. We have received quite a number. I am not too sure what the Hon. Member wants us to do. We consider this based on applications that are received from farmers.
However, Madam Speaker, should there be specific names and areas that the Hon. Member has, he can submit those and we can look at those expeditiously in terms of the existing laws. Thank you Madam Speaker.
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