George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Commercial and communal land reform farm beneficiaries will — from this year — start paying rentals, with the funds being channelled towards compensating white former farmers who gave way to them.
Conservancies have also not been spared.
The rentals will be in addition to the $1 land tax per hectare the new farmers are already paying to rural district councils.
Addressing the Masvingo provincial lands committee on Thursday, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said A2 farmers, who are commercial, will part with $3 land rental per hectare per annum and $2 unit tax per hectare annually.
“Cabinet last week approved payment of a land rental by all the beneficiaries of the land reform programme and the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement will not only collect the land rental from A1 and A2 farmers, but the ministry will also be responsible for collecting unit tax.’’
Dr Mombeshora said A1 communal farmers will pay $10 land rental per year and another $5 unit tax over the same period.
Apart from compensation for white former farmers, the rental will help Government raise cash for periodic land audits.
“Collection of the land rental will start this year, definitely, and we are currently busy working on the mechanisms of how the money will be collected.”
The Ministry of Lands, said Dr Mombeshora, will collect the money and hand it over to Treasury which will then transfer the funds to the relevant ministries.
The $1 per hectare unit tax which the farmers were paying to rural district councils will now be collected by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
Dr Mombeshora said there was no clear method of enforcing the collection of such tax and as a result most local authorities were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by farmers.
Some of the cases have already spilled into the courts as councils try to recover the money.
Dr Mombeshora said payment of the land rentals was first approved by the Zanu-PF Politburo before it received thumbs up from Cabinet.
He warned those who would renege on payment that they risked losing their farms.