BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
GOVERNMENT has said underutilised land will be repossessed and redistributed to people on the waiting list during the on-going land audit to flush out multiple farm owners.
Farms allocated to indigenous farmers during the land reform programme are undergoing an extensive audit, which seeks to assess how land is being utilised.
The audit is in its third and final phase.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development deputy minister Douglas Karoro told NewsDay that possession of multiple farms was against government’s policy.
“Multiple farm ownership is against government policy which allows one farm per family.
Through land audits, the government has been able to identify multiple farm owners.
Land audit is an ongoing process,” he said.
In 2018, government disbursed $5 million for the first phase of the audit, while an additional $14, 5 million was availed for the subsequent phase the following year.
The first phase of the land audit unearthed gross underfunding of the agricultural sector, which put government under pressure to establish a land and agricultural bank to fund resettled farmers.
“Through land audits we are continuously assessing how land is being utilised or underutilised.
We are looking at how the available land is being distributed to deserving people with demonstrated capacity to do profitable farming,” Karoro said.
According to Karoro, some farmers have been surrendering land owing to various reasons, and “that land is then distributed to others on the waiting list”.
“The distribution aspect makes the land audit a continuous process.
The land audit’s primary objective is to ensure that there is productivity on the land.
It is not a tool meant to drive farmers off the land as has been alleged in some sections of the media.
Through the land audit, the government can identify challenges that farmers are facing and address them,” he said.
Karoro said government was also in the process of downsizing some farms.
“Similarly through these audits, the government has also been able to identify some oversized farms.
Downsizing is taking place in the case of the latter.
Underutilised land without valid explanations will unfortunately have to be repossessed by the government and given to others on the very long waiting list.”
Zimbabwe’s land reform resulted in the displacement of 6 000 white former commercial farmers, with about 300 000 black families benefiting.
The programme was abused by top government and Zanu PF officials.