Landless waiting list tops 500 000

Elita Chikwatiand Alec Mubani Herald Reporters
There are over 500 000 landless people who have applied to the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to be allocated pieces of arable land, a senior Government official said yesterday.Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora, said this in an interview after addressing the Joint Command and Staff Course (JCSC) number 28 students at Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday.

He said the waiting list had more people than those who benefited from the land reform.

“Close to 300 000 families have been resettled under the land reform on both A1 and A2 sectors. About 19 000 are A2 farmers covering 3 million hectares,” he said.

Dr Mombeshora said Government was going to distribute land to more people although it was not possible to have everyone owning a farm.

“Not everyone who wants to be a farmer can be a farmer, but there is need to have a fair way of distributing land and ensuring fair access to land.

“Let us charge land rentals so that those with land are paying for it. It means if somebody is not utilising that land, he/she will give it up and it will be allocated to somebody else and I think that is a fair way of solving the issue.

“Let us stick to the maximum farm size that we have stipulated for the various farming regions. We have some people with huge farms; for instance 3 000 hectares in a zone where the maximum farm size is 400ha. So it means we will be able to offer land to another six beneficiaries on that farm.

Region 1 has a maximum farm size of 250ha, region 2(a) 350ha, region 2(b) 400ha, 500ha for region 3, while regions 4 and 5 have 1 500 and 2000 ha respectively.

Dr Mombeshora said Government was also considering reducing the farm sizes to ensure more people had access to land.

“We should now look at even reducing those farm sizes. When we say maximum farm size it does not necessarily mean that everyone should have the maximum farm size. In other cases the land size is determined by the terrain; we may have marsh lands hills. But where the land is all suitable for agriculture we will have to give smaller plots. That is another way of ensuring more people benefit from land.

“We must quickly implement our land audit because we believe the process will be able to pick up the underutilised land, multiple farm ownership and recover the other pieces of land and use it,” he said.

This means farmers who are not performing well will lose their land and it will be resettled to the landless.

“We are at an advanced stage of the land audit. We are reviewing the questionnaire that will be used.  We do not have funds. We have not been allocated any funds for 2015 but we are going to use the money we collect from land rentals to implement the land audit and we will start now. It will be done province by province,” he said.

Dr Mombeshora said the ministry had since last year been capturing personal data and was processing the data before going to the farms.

The land reform was meant to decongest communal areas and indigenise commercial agriculture.

Some farmers have multiple farms, while others are not making full use of the land with others subletting to the white former commercial farmers, defeating the purpose of empowering indigenous Zimbabweans.

President Mugabe has on several occasions spoke against multiple farm ownership.