Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka has revealed that 500 farmers out of the 23 000 have received 99-year leases from the government.
He was responding to a question raised by Hon Allan Markham during the National Assembly Questions and Answers session, over the issuance of 99 leases to the local indigenous farmers
“Let me start by correcting the statement; it is not true that indigenous people have not been given 99-Year Leases. Let me put this into context and clarify a few issues. The process of the issuance of the 99-Year Lease originally was that a farmer would get an A2 offer letter, after five years on the property and of development, the farmer would opt to apply for a 99-Year Lease and pay an assessment fee. That assessment fee would enable the Department of Lands to go on to the property and do an assessment,”
“Madam Speaker, when the Land Commission Act was promulgated, that changed to say that a 99-Year Lease may not be issued by the Minister without reference to the Zimbabwe Land Commission which created a second level of verification. Madam Speaker, that assessment would then leave the Ministry’s Department of Lands and be submitted to the Zimbabwe Land Commission who would also do their own assessment of whether the farmer would get a 99-Year Lease or not. Then they would recommend to the Minister whether an issuance of the 99-Year Lease is appropriate or not,” added Min Masuka
Madam Speaker, through this cumbersome process, we have issued under 500 99-Year Leases of the 23 000 A2 farmers. Noting this very cumbersome process, Government last year changed the policy on the issuance of 99-Year Leases as follows:
First, the offer letter was merely a piece of paper, we then issued a securitised A2 permit. All new offers for the land are now securitised A2 permits which would allow farmers some security of tenure. All A2 farmers automatically qualify for 99-Year Leases now. No one needs to apply for a 99- Year Lease and this is the policy position of Government.
We introduced what we call the production and productivity return form. It is an annual production and productivity form which A1 and A2 farmers should complete and an assessment team assesses the level of production and productivity on the farm and recommends for the automatic issuance of a 99-Year Lease. This process will start this year, 2023 and we have said farmers ought to complete the production and productivity returns by the 31st March, 2023.This enables them to be assessed for such. This is the correct position in relation to 99-Year Leases.
He went on to appeal for the parliament to him with the amendments to the Land Commission Act
“Futuristically, I hope this august House will find it fit to support the suggestions in the amendments to the Land Commission Act which will separate the administrative processes of land from the oversight role on land which will be the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Land Commission,” he said.
“Once that happens, we will be able to issue 99-Year Leases without reference to the Zimbabwe Land Commission because currently, they seem to be both a referee and a player in this regard. We will be able to expedite that if we get support from the august House,” added Minister Masuka