99-year leases can be cancelled: Govt

Ninety-nine year land leases offered to new farmers could be terminated should the beneficiaries fail to utilize the land for two consecutive years, the ministry of lands officials said over the weekend.

If farms are not utilised, 99-year leases could be terminated.
If farms are not utilised, 99-year leases could be terminated.

The government gave 99-year lease letters to a few top party and government senior officials believed to have the capacity to fully utilize acquired large scale A2 farms.

“I hope you are aware that there were not many farmers who benefitted from the 99-year lease facility. The long lease on its own was no guarantee that one may do as he pleases with the allocated land. Should a farmer let the farm lay idle for two consecutive years, he risks losing the land to the government.

Before a farmer receives the 99-year lease offer, he cannot tamper with structures left at the farm by the former owner,” said an official at the ministry of lands exhibition stand at the Mashonaland East Provincial Show.

Contrary to the regulations, new farmers went on to vandalise property left by evicted white commercial farmers soon after invading the farms. No serviceable infrastructure was left on most of the occupied farms.

The official said should the beneficiary of the 99-year land lease pass on before the lease period expires, his living dependents may approach the Lands Ministry and sign relevant agreement papers to inherit the property.

Farmers interested in benefitting from the land reform programme are required to express their interest by way of an application letter through the ministry of lands. Applications are vetted by a committee made up of government officials, traditional leaders and War Veterans, among other stakeholders.

If the application is approved, the applicant is given an offer letter for the land applied for. After proving to the ministry of land inspectors that he is a capable and productive farmer, the farmer is offered a 99-year lease letter.

“Composition of the vetting committee membership compromised the land redistribution exercise with mainly Zanu (PF) supporters benefitting. In fact, the exercise was regarded as a Zanu (PF) project used to thank party cadres for standing by Mugabe during his dark days as head of state, hence the inclusion of war veterans in the vetting process,” said a resident, Stephen Chamunorwa, who was denied the opportunity to access land as he was a known MDC activist.

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