via White farmers to be vetted: Govt | The Herald October 13, 2015
Government has not yet issued offer letters to white farmers who were recommended by provinces to stay on their farms as they will first be subjected to strict vetting before receiving security of tenure documents. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora revealed that his ministry had received recommendations from some provinces to issue offer letters to white farmers considered to be strategic in those regions.
He, however, said his ministry was still to issue even a single offer letter to a white farmer as strict vetting needed to be carried out first. “We have not yet issued any offer letter to a white farmer although we have received recommendations from most provinces to issue certain white farmers with offer letters. It is not a one-day exercise, because there are a lot of things that need to be done before we issue them with offer letters,’’ he said.
“As Government, we need to look at each of the white farmers one by one to establish whose interests they represent because we have some instances where the white farmers will have been recommended to get an offer letter on the basis of being linked to a powerful person. We need to unravel things like that and get satisfied that the white farmer in question is really committed to Zimbabwe,’’ he said.
The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has received recommendations from provinces around the country to issue offer letter to scores of white farmers considered to run operations of strategic economic importance. Among the white farmers recommended were those specialising in areas such as dairy farming, poultry and hybrid bull production.
Dr Mombeshora said white farmers with loyalty to powerful individuals will not get offer letters as the most important qualification to get that document was loyalty to the interests of all Zimbabweans. “We are still studying the recommendations from the provinces and we will act after carrying out thorough vetting of the white farmers. Provinces do not have the power to issue offer letters. They can only make recommendations and we (Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement) act on the advice of those recommendations,’’ he added.
In Masvingo, the provincial lands committee has recommended that six white farmers be issued with offer letters after their operations were classified as being of strategic economic importance to the province. The white farmers are involved in sugar cane farming in Chiredzi, dairy farming in Gutu and Masvingo districts, hybrid bull production in Mwenezi and poultry production.
Among those recommended is Ms Hellen Mitchell, who produces 100 000 day-old chicks a week at her Barquest Farm, about 20km east of Masvingo on the shores of Lake Mutirikwi. Part of Mrs Mitchell’s 367-hectare farm had been gazetted for acquisition under the land reform programme. Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi had been given an offer letter to take over part of the farm.
However, the Masvingo provincial leadership, led by provincial affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa, blocked the move saying Ms Mitchell’s operations were of strategic importance to Masvingo province’s economy.