Give farmers title deeds not leases: Biti

People who benefited from the land “reform” programme should not fool themselves into believing that they own the land, says Finance Minister Tendai Biti. They were only given leases, not title deeds.

TendaiBiti: Government can take the land back at any time.
TendaiBiti: Government can take the land back at any time.

Biti said the MDC opposed the issuing of 99-year leases to farmers because this made it impossible for them to access the necessary finance to develop the farms.

“As ugly as it was, MDC has agreed that the land reform is irreversible. We have been clamouring for a transparent land audit and our position is that every farmer should be given title deeds in order to develop his or her farm. What we are against is multiple farm ownership,” said Biti. “Farmers only received offer letters with the signatures of former ministers of agriculture such as Flora Buka, Didymus Mutasa, Herbert Murerwa or the current mister Joseph Made. The problem with leases is that government can terminate the leases at any time. Most ordinary farmers do not know this,” he said.

The issuing of 99-year lease also caused challenges in the event of death of the beneficiary.

Biti said the children of the deceased could not inherit the farm because the government was legally empowered to take it back once the holder of the lease passed away.

Legal experts and political analysts said the issuing of leases instead of title deeds by the former Zanu (PF) government was a calculated move by the party to cow people into voting for them during elections.

“People are constantly threatened that if they vote for someone other than those in Zanu, their farms will be taken. So the 99-year lease suits their game,” said one observer.

Post published in: News

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