Zim relaxes land ownership regulations

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1.Govt hunts for financial advisors to mobilise US$3.5 bln
2.Land was re-distributed to over 400 000 landless blacks.
3.Government agreed to compensate the white formers after years of talks
4.The government has a one-year deadline to raise US$1.75 billion for the exercise.
5.A 30-year debt instrument and possible listing on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange are among proposals.

Zimbabwe has relaxed land ownership regulations to include allowing former farm owners who remained on compulsorily acquired land to regularise their stay, while those who had offer letters were given the green light to apply for official 99 year leases, it has been learnt.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, announced this at a joint press conference he held in Harare yesterday alongside his Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement counterpart, Anxious Masuka.

The conference also attracted a sizeable number of white former farmers.

Minister Mthuli clarified the security of tenure for former farm owners still on the land, indigenous farmers and those that were under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) who were affected during the land reform, farm downsizing and prohibition of illegal occupation of productive farms.

He said the signing of the Global Compensation Deed on 29 July 2020, was a major milestone in the restoration of trust and co-operation between the former farm owners and the Government of Zimbabwe.
“…Government’s highest priority in agriculture is to increase production and productivity through collaborative efforts of all Zimbabweans. This includes skills transfer from former farm owners to the resettled farmers and the provision of an attractive land tenure system that will be supportive of increased levels of investment on agricultural land.

“Former farm owners on compulsorily acquired land should urgently regularise their tenure through designated Government institutions in the first instance, before consideration can be made for the issuance of 99-Year Leases. Former farm owners who already hold Offer Letters may proceed to apply for 99- Year Leases,” he said.

Mthuli said former farm owners who are indigenous Zimbabweans or citizens of countries that had ratified Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements or Bilateral Investment Treaties with Zimbabwe at the time their land was compulsorily acquired for resettlement are entitled to compensation for both land and improvements, in terms of subsections (1) and (2) of Section 295 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“This category of former farm owners is not eligible for payment of compensation under the Global Compensation Agreement signed on 29 July 2020. Their compensation will be considered separately on a case by case basis. Through the Land Commission (Gazetted Land) (Disposal in Lieu of Compensation) Regulations (SI 62 of 2020), Government has already provided that these former farm owners can apply in writing to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement for restoration of title to the piece of agricultural land that was compulsorily acquired from them for resettlement.

“Government will grant their applications where the circumstances presently obtaining on the ground permit the restoration of their land to them. In this regard, in order to allow former farm owners in this category to regain possession of the pieces of land that were acquired from them, Government will, in the appropriate circumstances, revoke the offer letters of resettled farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” he said.

Where the situation on the ground makes it impossible to restore land in this category to its former owners, Government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available.
“Where a former farm owner under this category regains possession of the land that was previously acquired from them or accepts an offer by Government of land as restitution, this shall be in full and final settlement, or to the extent that may be mutually agreed with Government, of any claims for compensation from the State that the former farm owner may have.

“Where it is not possible or desirable for the State to restore the acquired land to its former owner or offer alternative land, Government shall offer compensation to the former farm owner based on the same valuation methodology as was applied under the Global Compensation Deed,” he said.

Mthuli said Government had exempted fully utilised productive farms from downsising until agricultural land under multiple farm ownership, derelict and or under-utilised has been brought into production.
“Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Provincial Lands Committees shall ensure strict adherence to this policy,” he said.

Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement counterpart, Anxious Masuka

The Minister said illegal land occupations should stop as they were disrupting production.
“Government has received numerous reports regarding the resurgence of illegal land occupations, particularly on highly productive farms thereby disrupting production. This comes at a time when the focus should be on increasing utilisation and productivity on agricultural land.
“These illegal farm occupations are taking place in complete disregard of offer letters which Government has issued to the affected farmers. Such disorderly behaviour among our citizens is indiscipline of the highest level which Government does not condone or tolerate. It should stop forthwith,” he said.

Is government taking bank land from new farmers

Masuka said it was unfortunate that there was a perception that Government was backtracking on the land reform and was not the case.

He said former farm owners were going to be compensated on the improvements they made but those under BIPPAs were going to get their land back.

“This allows us to move into production and productivity,” he said.

Former commercial farmers’ representative, Nick Swanepoel said they appreciated what Government had done as the whole process had taken them 20 years to get to where they are now.

“It has taken us a long time to get there. Every single farmer in Zimbabwe has commitment. It’s time for us to get up and produce. We cannot import food from South Africa and elsewhere. We have to boost production and productivity,” he said.

Government signed the Global Compensation Deed with former commercial farmers in the context of moving the Vision 2030 agenda forward.

The agreement was also done in the context of moving the Vision 2030 agenda forward and therefore to ensure its timely realisation through increased agricultural productivity, among other initiatives.-ebusinessweekly.co.zw

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