Sunday News Reporters
THE Government has started repossessing land from A2 farmers who have failed to take up the land they were allocated amid indications that at least 24 farmers in Matabeleland North have been served with withdrawal letters.
Although the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora could not be reached to shed light on this matter, Matabeleland North provincial land officer Mr Possenti Nkiwane confirmed that 24 beneficiaries of Government’s land redistribution programme from various parts of the province’s districts had their land repossessed after they failed to utilise it.
“Those that had the land repossessed from them didn’t take it up despite being given offer letters, they didn’t go on the ground. Firstly a notice of intention for failure to take up (the land) was flighted through the Press and if one was still interested on the land they should have responded directly to the Ministry stating the reasons why they weren’t utilising the resource and those without a reason obviously were prepared to have the land taken,” said Mr Nkiwane.
In 2000, the Government started the land reform programme in an effort to distribute the resource among the majority since most of it was in the hands of the minority white farmers. The land redistribution programme was also aimed at improving the country’s agricultural sector through utilisation of the resource.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland North provincial chairman Cde Richard Moyo confirmed the repossession of the land, adding that some of the farms have since been allocated to “deserving individuals”.
Meanwhile, Government has resumed the farm downsizing exercise which was suspended in 2015 for farms that either exceed the recommended maximum sizes or some whose original farm owners have since passed on leaving the land to relatives who are failing to fully utilise them.
Speaking during a Zanu-PF Midlands Provincial Coordinating Committee on Development held in Gweru yesterday, Midlands provincial lands officer Ms Kudzayi Katiyo said the Government has resumed the farm downsizing exercise to enable more people to benefit from the land reform programme as well as ensuring maximum utilisation of land.
The province has over 12 000 people on the land waiting list. Ms Katiyo said the farm downsizing exercise will precede the second phase of land redistribution which will prioritise youths, women and liberation war veterans.
‘‘In the Midlands Province the standard farm size is 500 hectares. This exercise started in 2015 and was immediately suspended. In 2016 we started compiling the reports of why we had decided to reduce the sizes of some of the farms,’’ she said.