More than 200 white Zimbabwean commercial farmers have applied to remain on the land

A Zimbabwean farmer addresses a meeting of white commercial farmers in the capital Harare, February 5, 2010. The farmers discussed ways in which they can force the Zimbabwe government to pay compensation for their confiscated farming land and have decided to take their case to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal Court in March. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE – Tags: AGRICULTURE POLITICS) – RTR29V35

More than 200 white Zimbabwean farmers have applied to remain on the land that they are farming and will be offered 99-year leases, Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka told Parliament yesterday.

The minister dismissed claims that the government was favouring white farmers by giving the more land while downsizing farms offered to blacks.

He said the government was now implementing its policy adopted in August 2020 which targets multi-farms, abandoned farms, derelict and under-utilised farms.

“There is no racial bias in the application of this policy. If a farmer is productive as in the example that has been given on 1200 hectares, the offer letter will be on 1200 hectares because that is the new policy guidance effective August 2020,” he said.

Masuka was responding to a question by independent legislator Temba Mliswa who claimed that the government was giving white farmers bigger farms than blacks which seemed to be an admission that blacks had failed to utilise the land.

Masuka said white farmers were being treated the same as black farmers and204hadso far applied for offer letters.

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“Out of the 297 former farm owners that are still on farms recommended by provinces, we received 204 applications and we have issued 134 offer letters,” he said.

Q & A

HON. T. MLISWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. There seems to be a reversal in the Land Reform Programme where we see that even the white farmers in terms of compliance of the 500 hectares are now being given offer letters of 1200 hectares while the black farmers farms are being downsized. I hear there are over 200 leases that are to be given to white farmers; I do not know how many leases are being given to black farmers. Is it an admission that blacks have failed to utilise the land and the whites are more superior?

Can you also tell us why you prefer white farmers because they are productive and black farmers who are not productive but white farmers are given financial support and the blacks are not given? Is it a shift of policy that whites must now get their land back? In all these offer letters, you have given over 100 hectares, the swanepoels of the world when Government policy is 500. Have you shifted from the late Hon. Air Mashall (Rtd) Shiri’s policies? Have you changed his policies which went before Cabinet?

THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Thank you Madam Speaker and I thank Hon. T. Mliswa for the multiple sub-questions in one question. The policy is very clear. The target for pre-planning is targeting multi-farms, abandoned farms, derelict and underutilised farms. I have previously highlighted that the new policy guidance effective August 2020 is that productive farms will be left for now. This Government has made it abundantly clear on several occasions. Government entered into a Global Compensation Deed with the former farm owners wherein an arrangement was made that those former farm owners that are still farming are on properties, may apply to Government for regularisation of their tenure documents. This is effectively what Government has done. Out of the 297 former farm owners that are still on farms recommended by provinces, we received 204 applications and we have issued 134 offer letters.

Those farmers Madam Speaker, may just like any other farmer proceed to apply for 99 year lease, and some of them have taken that option. So that is the clarity; there is no racial bias in the application of this policy. If a farmer is productive as in the example that has been given on 1200 hectares,the offer letter will be on 1200 hectares because that is the new policy guidance effective August 2020.