Govt starts issuing 99-year leases to white farmers

Local

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has started issuing 99-year land leases to white farmers as part of ongoing far reaching reforms being undertaken by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
In a memorandum, the Minister of Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired) directed all provincial land officers to implement the new directive with immediate effect.
Previously, white farmers had their leases renewed every five years.
“Please be informed that the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement has directed that all remaining white farmers be issued 99-year lease instead of the five-year leases as per the previous agreement,” reads part of the memo dated January 3.
In an interview yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Cde Davis Marapira said Government was not paying attention to colour in issuing the 99 year leases.
He said the State was only providing leases to farmers who were utilising their farms.
“We don’t give regard to colour, we don’t consider whether someone is green, yellow, black or white as long as they are a farmer.
“For my Ministry which is the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement we are issuing 99 year leases to every farmer who has shown development on the farm,” he said.
“We don’t just issue 99 year leases, officials come to assess the intensity of developments to see if one can be recommended for a 99 year lease.”
Cde Marapira said the 99 year leases will work as surety for farmers when they approach financial institutions for loans to support agricultural activities.
Commercial Farmers Union director Mr Ben Giplin said though they haven’t received the official communication yet, they welcome the development.
“We have seen the communication but we are yet to receive any formal communication, but it would be a welcome development.
“Whilst we are very encouraged, we want to see more clarity on what will happen to those farmers that are still on the farms but had not yet received offer letters because at the moment, there is only a small number that have them.
“We would also want to know what will happen to those farmers who are still interested in going back to farming,” Mr Giplin.
While attending the World Economic Forum last week, President Mnangagwa said farmers will not be treated based on racial basis.
“We as the new administration, we don’t want to think on racial lines that they are white farmers and black farmers.
“That should be a philosophy of the past. Farmers are farmers we have lots of commercial farmers who have happily integrated into our system by accepting to have their farms reduced or downsized in terms of our ecological regions,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the country will tap into the skills of white farmers while capacitating other indigenous farmers.
“Those who have remained have accepted and have remained and are participating in our agricultural production and development and we value their skills absolutely,” said the President.

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