Zimbabwean Government to Audit Farms

Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed this in the Three-Year Macro-Economic Policy and Budget Framework for 2010-2012 (STERP II) which he launched last week.

He said the first phase of the audit would cover 12,000 A2 farms, 108,000 A1 farms, 56,250 old resettlement schemes and 6 000 small-and large-scale commercial farms.

The second phase, set for 2011, will cover another 60,750 farms, including 4,000 A2 farms, 36,000 A1 farms, 18 750 old resettlement schemes and 2 000 small-and large-scale commercial farms.

Biti said the government would convene key stakeholder meetings prior to the onset of the audit to ensure broader stakeholder participation and input.

"Beyond the provision of logistics and support services for inspection, land audit committees and provincial teams, other activities under the national land audit exercise will include training of enumerators and data capturers, as well as carrying out of pilot audits," he said.

Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform program in 2000 which saw the government repossess white owned farms for redistribution to the landless blacks.

At least two land audits have been conducted revealing multiple farm ownership and other irregularities.

Lands and Land Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa was quoted by The Herald on Tuesday as saying that the ministry was ready to conduct the audit after getting an allocation of 31 million U. S. dollars in the 2010 national budget.

"We are ready to start the audit but just waiting for the money we received in the national budget. We are going to conduct the audit in phases so that we strengthen our methods of the audits while assessing the effectiveness of the program," he said.

Murerwa assured that the land audit would not remove resettled farmers from their pieces of land. "I would want to dispel rumors that farmers will lose their land. The audit is expected to assist government come up with policies and programs that help farmers enhance production on their pieces of land."

He said the audit would assess activities on the ground, land uptake, production levels, availability of water sources and other related issues.

"The whole program seeks to help government come up with initiatives to empower the farmers for sustaining food production, " he added.

The national land audit, according to STERP II, will facilitate the undertaking of title surveys for 1,200 A2 farms in 2010, 3,000 A2 farms in 2011 and 2012 each respectively that is critical for issuance of more 99-year leases to the farmers.

"This will involve carrying out of field surveys and preparation and approval of survey diagrams by the Surveyor- General’s Department. Given the large volume of work involved, sub- contracting of title surveys on A2 farms will be unavoidable," the official said.

The government expects the land audit to facilitate a comprehensive re-planning and re-designing process of land use with regard to agro-ecological zones and protection of conservancies and wildlife.