Government has dismissed reports that the ongoing downsizing of farms is only targeting white farmers and has stressed that it affects everyone with a farm larger than the stipulated maximum size.
Addressing the media in Harare yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said the regularisation of farms was transparent and colour-blind.
His remarks came barely a week after some media platforms published reports that white farmers were being victimised under the ongoing exercise.
The reports singled out two farmers — Mr Peter Drummond of Hunyani Estate and Mr Robert Davenport of Stapleford Farm in Mashonaland West.
“It should be noted that the regularisation of farm sizes in line with Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020 is a process, which is ongoing and affecting many farmers.
“Let me hasten to categorically state that the implementation process is being religiously pursued without any bias, discrimination, nepotism and favouritism.
“Regularisation of farm sizes is a transparent Government exercise, which is being done without consideration of one’s colour or creed,” Minister Shiri said.
Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020 limits farms in natural region 1 to 200ha, in natural region 2 to 500ha in natural region 3 to 750ha in natural region 4; 1 500ha in natural region 5 to 2 000ha.
He said the two farmers referred to were both in that part of Mashonaland West where the maximum farm size is 500ha.
“Contrary to the stipulated 500ha maximum farm size for that region, Mr Drummond’s Hunyani Estate measures 2 800 hectares in extent, while Mr Davenport’s Stapleford Farm measures 1 800 hectares. This obtaining situation justifies the inclusion of the two farmers, among others on the list of farms earmarked for downsizing.”
He added that Mr Drummond and Mr Davenport are both beneficiaries of land reform since they occupy State land and not private land.
His Ministry had an open door policy, which allows farmers or land beneficiaries with queries to approach them for redress.
“With specific regards to the downsizing exercise, if any farmer is not happy with the downsizing proposal, he or she must feel free to approach the minister with representations. If a farmer is allowed to continue operating on a farm, which is above the gazetted maximum size, that should not be taken as a right or privilege.
Minister Shiri said going forward the ministry shall be very strict and applications that will go against the dictates of gazetted maximum farm sizes will not be processed.