via Govt clears air on agric partnerships | The Herald October 31, 2015
Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora has said the Government is against the practice of new farmers leasing their land to white former farmers, but is open to formal partnerships.
He said this in Bubi District during the launch of the Matabeleland North A1 permits which seek to give security of tenure to resettled farmers.
At least 150 farmers settled at subdivision B of Rouxdale Farm received the certificates.
“We also have cases of people who have been allocated land but have abandoned it and instead sublease it to the former owners. To this we say, NO! Government has agreed to joint ventures, partnerships and contract farming provided the farmers bring their applications to the minister for approval. We see these as progressive as they help to capacitate our farmers,” said Dr Mombeshora.
He said the Government would not hesitate to withdraw offer letters from farmers who are leasing out their farms to the former farmers.
“While we understand that as Government we have not been able to fully support our farmers and financial institutions are not keen to lend money to them, we don’t see subleasing as a solution.
“Those farmers who are subleasing farms to former owners should pave way for genuine farmers who are ready to work on the land and I want to state today that I will not hesitate to withdraw offer letters for those proved to be subleasing their allocated land,” said Dr Mombeshora.
The Lands minister said terms and conditions for the A1 Settlement Permit were gazetted as Statutory Instrument 53 of 2014.
These terms and conditions outline rights of permit holders and their dependants. They state that the permit is valid for an indefinite period.
“Permit holders can do improvements on the allocated land, spouses are recognised, and inheritance procedures are laid down, among other conditions,” said Dr Mombeshora.
He said the Government implemented the Model A1 Settlement Permit based on the principles that, each family should have access to a homestead area covering 0,5 hectares; arable land covering six hectares and grazing space for seven livestock units.
“The Ministry is disturbed with reports indicating that most A1 farms are now overcrowded as arable land per family has been reduced and grazing space allocated to illegal settlers by some traditional leaders in collaboration with some Government officials such as district administrators and district lands officers,” he said.
Dr Mombeshora said A1 farmers who received permits would be paying a development levy and land rental totalling $15 annually while A2 farmers would fork out $5 per hectare per annum.
The event, held at Chief Mtshana Khumalo’s homestead, was attended by lands deputy minister Cde Berita Chikwama, Minister of State in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Office Cde Clifford Sibanda who is also the area’s legislator, Agriculture deputy Minister responsible for livestock production Cde Paddy Zhanda and Bubi senator Madeline Bhebhe, the district leadership and the local people.