via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Government recalls A1 offer letters by Agriculture Reporter 11 November 2013
GOVERNMENT is recalling all offer letters issued to farmers resettled under the A1 scheme and replacing them with a new document which makes it easier to account for the farmers, as efforts to audit land ownership intensify.
The issuance of new offer letters is expected to improve the database at the Lands and Rural Resettlement Ministry and make it possible to identify farmers according to the land they occupy.
A1 farmers would now be considered bona fide land owners only if they obtain the new offer letters which outlines requirements for land ownership.
Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora last week said the new offer letters would contain more data compared to the previous ones.
He advised farmers not to panic as no one would be removed from the land during the process.
“The new offer letter is being given to farmers on the land,” said Minister Mombeshora.
“No one is being resettled. No one will lose a farm in the process.”
The new document contains information about the name of the farm owner, the address, plot number, farm size and states conditions pertaining to the offer.
The old letter had the farmer’s name, the identity number and the farm’s name only.
According to the new offer letter, the farmer should take up personal and permanent residence on the allocated land. While the old offer letter stated that if the land was not taken up in 30 days, it would be repossessed and allocated to someone else, the new letter gives the farmer 14 days to communicate with the land committee if he or she does not accept the land offer.
The new offer letter also states that the farmer should not cede, assign or grant any right of occupancy in respect of the piece of land offered.
“In the event of withdrawal or change of this offer, no compensation will be claimable or payable whatsoever,” reads the new document.
“The District Land Committee reserves the right to withdraw or change this offer if it deems necessary or if you are found in breach of any of these conditions. The interpretation of the document solely lives with the District Land Committee and the undersigned.”
Minister Mombeshora said his team would tour provinces to acquaint itself with challenges associated with land reform in line with provisions of the Zanu-PF election manifesto.
He said he wanted chief lands officers to ensure that all the families that moved onto the farms long back got offer letters first.
“This should be done by end of November,” he said. “The officers should clear offer letter backlogs and disputes to allow farmers to shift focus to production.”
The minister said land officers should avoid giving offer letters to individuals who intended to move onto already occupied farms, adding that efforts were being made to end corruption in the allocation of land.
Minister Mombeshora said there were situations where individuals in the land committees allocated farms to relatives, friends and at times to strangers for a fee.
“Fresh farm occupations should stop forthwith to allow agriculture to drive the economy,” he said.
The minister said Government would not repossess farms occupied by indigenous farmers perceived to be under-utilising land for as long as sanctions remained in place.
This was because most farmers were failing to make ends meet because of the effects of the illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries.
He recently said his ministry would embark on a land audit to establish the exact number of people who own land, the land that was idle and assess productivity on the farms.