The Government will soon issue letters of withdrawal to anyone found to have been underutilising farms allocated under the Land Reform Programme, a senior Government official has said.
The Land Commission’s presented its audit report to President Mnangagwa last November and its recommendations are now set to be implemented.
As part of efforts to ensure all arable land is fully productive, the Second Republic commissioned the audit whose findings are yet to be made public.
Speaking during a question and answer session in Parliament last week, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi confirmed that farmers who were not productive would be issued with letters of withdrawal.
Minister Ziyambi was responding to a question from Marondera East legislator Cde Vimbai Mutokonyi (Zanu PF) who wanted to know the Government’s policy regarding underutilised farms.
“I want to thank the Hon Member for such a pertinent question. There are people who got farms but are not utilising them. The Land Commission did a land audit to find out what is happening on each and every farm. You will find that letters of withdrawal will come because people were given farms to be productive, not to just have homesteads.
Minister Ziyambi reaffirmed Government’s commitment to ensuring that agricultural land was put to its most productive use. The audit was aimed at coming up with a Land Information Management System (LIMS) which will tackle issues which include multiple farm ownerships and double allocations.
LIMS saw the auditing of 254 538 farms countrywide looking at land allocation, distribution of beneficiaries by farm categories, where they come from, investment made by the beneficiaries, production, land management, environmental management and provision of social services.
Among other things in the scope were issues of extension services and where farmers were acquiring information in farming, methods and business models they use, leasing, joint ventures, tenure security and enjoyment of basket of rights.
After presenting the report to President Mnangagwa, ZLC chair, Commissioner Tendai Bare said LIMS was a database created from auditing agricultural land vested in the State which excluded communal lands and this was a Constitutional mandate.
“It was quite a bit of double allocations and we are dealing with it through the dispute resolution, but I think with this database we will minimise double allocations because before a piece of land is allocated, its status will be established. So really, this land audit will assist the ministry to do a lot of cleaning up where it is necessary,” she said.
The LIMS, said Commissioner Bare, would also tackle issues of multiple farm ownerships.
Up to 260 000 people on the waiting list for farms are expected to benefit when the Government begins to reallocate abandoned or underutilised farms.