via Govt orders freeze to farm downsizing | The Herald October 31, 2015
Government has suspended unsanctioned downsizing of farms in all provinces after realising that some people were using the process to settle personal scores, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora has said.
Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces had identified close to 200 000 hectares for downsizing. Unconfirmed reports are that other provinces had identified a combined 500 000 hectares without giving reasons for such cuts.
As such, Minister Mombeshora said, a comprehensive report justifying the downsizing process should be submitted to his ministry for approval before the process is effected.
He said Government wanted transparency in the process.
“There should be no downsizing without authority from the ministry,” he said.
“Provinces should give us more flesh, for instance to say that for the past five years this person has been using only five hectares but he has a big farm of about 50 hectares that he is not using to the maximum. If we do not do that people will be victimised so provinces have to ask for permission first.”
Minister Mombeshora said he reversed proposals submitted by almost all the provinces seeking to downsize farms without giving valid reasons.
“No one is downsizing at the moment because we want to know how much land is in each province,” he said.
“We no longer want to give people big farms they are not able to utilise, so we should take our time to do this process.
“We have two models of farms, which is the A1 and A2, and we want to do something thorough such that if it is an A1 we immediately issue permits soon after allocation.”
Minister Mombeshora said there was no date as yet regarding the tabling of the Land Commission Bill before Cabinet.
“The drafting section in the AG’s Office is understaffed and is overwhelmed with the alignment of other laws,” he said.
“Our Bill, unlike other laws which are just being amended, is completely new so we have to be thorough. As such I cannot give a date as to when it will be tabled before Cabinet.”
The Land Commission is expected to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land controlled by the State.
It is also expected to make recommendations to Government regarding all aspects of agricultural land and investigate complaints related to administration, land allocations and farm boundaries.