Government has directed that all remaining white commercial farmers be issued with 99-year leases, a marked policy shift from the previous arrangement where they could only get five-year leases.
The directive is in line with President Mnangagwa’s policy position as enunciated in his inauguration address on November 24 last year when he called for the restoration of confidence in the agriculture sector.
In a recent statement to eight acting provincial resettlement officers, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement said all remaining white commercial farmers should be issued with 99-year leases with immediate effect.
“Please be informed that the Minister Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement has directed that all remaining white commercial farmers be issued 99-year leases instead of the five-year leases as per the previous arrangement,” reads the statement.
When contacted for comment, Permanent Secretary in the ministry Mr Ringson Chitsiko referred The Herald to the statement.
However, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) director Mr Ben Giplin said though they haven’t received the official communication yet, they welcome the development.
“We have seen the communication but we are yet to receive any formal communication, but it would be a welcome development. Whilst we are very encouraged, we want to see more clarity on what will happen to those farmers that are still on the farms but had not yet received offer letters because at the moment, there is only a small number that have them. We would also want to know what will happen to those farmers who are still interested to go back to farming,” Mr Giplin.
He said there were approximately 200 white commercial farmers still farming countrywide.
President Mnangagwa has since pronounced that white former commercial farmers willing to come back were free to do so, but had to apply for land like anyone else.
While the new administration has reiterated the need to compensate white former commercial farmers, it has also moved in to enforce a ban on new illegal farm occupations.