Those affected will, however, have to apply to repossess their land.
The Sunday Mail today reported that regulations approving this were published on Friday.
The regulations apply to:
- indigenous individual persons (or where such persons are deceased, their legally recognised heirs);
- individuals who were citizens of a BIPPA (Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements) or BIT (Bilateral Investment Treatis) country at the time their investments in agricultural land were compulsorily acquired under the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme (or where such persons are deceased, their legally recognised heirs);
- partnerships, if the partners who held any farm jointly were — (i) indigenous individuals; or (ii) citizens of a BIPPA or BIT country;
- private companies whose shareholding is wholly or predominantly owned by — (i) indigenous individuals; or (ii) individuals who were citizens of a BIPPA or BIT country.
Those wishing to get back their land must apply to the Minister of Lands who refers the applications to a committee which then makes its recommendations to the minister whose decision is final.
“If in the opinion of the committee — (a) an applicant qualifies to obtain title to a farm in part or in full, the committee shall make the appropriate recommendation to the Minister; (b) an applicant does not qualify to obtain title to a farm in part or in full, the committee shall inform the applicant in writing accordingly and give him or her reasons why he or she does not qualify,” the regulations say.
“In considering a recommendation of the committee, the minister shall invite the Land Commission to make representations, if any, on the recommendation within a period (not being less than seven days) specified by the minister.
“The minister may reject any application on the basis that granting it would be contrary to the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, regional or town planning or the general public interest.
“The minister shall notify every applicant in writing of the outcome of his or her application and, where the application is rejected, the reasons for the rejection.
“The minister’s decision upon an application shall be final.”
It is not clear how many farms were appropriated from indigenous farmers. Some 197 farms under bilateral agreements were appropriated.
Some of the bilateral agreements were with countries like Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Malaysia and Switzerland.