Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Land Commission aims to audit at least 60 000 farms this year, as it strives to bring fairness, transparency and accountability in the administration and management of agricultural land in the country.
The audit will identify land utilisation patterns and optimal farming activities required for increased agricultural productivity, poverty alleviation and sustainable use of agricultural land.
The audit will be carried out in all gazetted categories of agricultural land which include old resettlement schemes, A1 villages, A1 self-contained, A2 small-medium and large-scale commercial farms, small-scale commercial farms, commercial agricultural plots and the three-tier farms.
Presenting its budgetary requirement for 2019, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands said the Zimbabwe Land Commission had set out the land audit as part of its key priorities in the next three years.
“… increase farms audited from 0 to 300 000 by 31 December 2021, which would imply that in 2019, about 100 000 farms would need to be audited. However, the Commission has set a target of 60 000 farms being audited in 2019, due to resource constraints,” read the report.
The committee recommended that the land audit be adequately funded as part of steps to bring closure to the land reform programme.
“A lot of Government programmes aimed at supporting farmers are not taking off due to failure to bring the land reform exercise to completion. The issuance of 99-year leases is also preventing the ease at which farmers can unlock financing of the farming activities. The committee is therefore recommending that resources for the land audit programme be increased,” said the committee in its recommendations.
The commission is also targeting to increase the number of A2 farms inspected for the issuance of 99-year leases from 1 800 to 4 300 by December 31, 2021.
“This would imply that on average, 99-year lease issuance of about 833 would be needed in 2019. However, the commission expects to inspect only 500 A2 farms in 2019 for the purpose of 99-year lease issuance, after factoring in the budget that has been availed,” read the report.
The Lands Commission also aims to inspect 8 000 farms by 31 December 2021.
“This would require an average of about 2 667 farms to be inspected in 2019. However, the commission has set an ambitious target of inspecting 6 400 farms in 2019; …increase the number of security of tenure systems reviewed from 0 to four by 31 December 2021, implying that at least one system review should be done in 2019,” said the commission.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission received an allocation of $10,49 million in the 2019 Budget, which is wholly funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The allocation for 2019 is an increase of about 64 percent compared to $6,412 million received in 2018.
“The committee appreciates this gesture by Treasury. This significant jump in programmes budget should facilitate the commission to embark on their ambitious programme of farm inspection and farm audits, which would also result in issuance of 99-year leases,” read the report.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission was created under Section 296 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20) Act, 2013.
It has mainly three focus areas: land audit; land inspections; resolution of disputes arising from land administration; and institutional capacity building.
Last month, the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of State Land in and around urban areas Justice Tendai Uchena said preliminary findings showed that scores of people had been duped by unscrupulous barons before barring the sale of State land in cases where the commission had expressed reservations.
Justice Uchena said evidence gathered from public hearings showed that a number of desperate home-seekers were falling prey to land barons who deliberately sold them disputed land.
Investigations are being carried out to establish ownership and methods used in the acquisition of such land.