Fallow land up for grabs

Government is updating its land reform database through evaluation and marking of boundaries using a global positioning system, while reallocating underutilised land, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Treasury has allocated funds to the Surveyor-General to buy 50 GPS units, vehicles and a computerised system, as well as to recruit at least 18 quantity surveyors and 50 technicians for the programme.

There are 20 teams working in Mashonaland East and West after successful evaluation and marking of boundaries in Mashonaland Central in November 2016.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said the programme would take two years to complete.

“These challenges of double allocations should not have arisen if we had an up-to-date database. These things were supposed to happen from the day the farm was acquired: we map it and it’s subdivided. But we are having a challenge where we have to create a map where people have already settled,” he said.

Dr Mombeshora said most boundaries were estimates and the GPS system would ensure accuracy.

“That’s one area we are correcting because as we speak we are updating our database to ensure that every farm is in our system and with a map which shows everything on the farm with correct information of an individual who has benefitted from the historic land reform,

“So we are in the process of computerising our beneficiaries of the land reforms so that by a click of a button we know who was resettled where and what it is he doing.

“We are happy because our Surveyor-General has been capacitated although more still needs to be done according to the requirements. But to some extent we can safely say a lot of work has been done. We have new staff in terms of our surveyors, when I came in we had four qualified surveyors now we recruited 17 more.”

He said the new GPS units would work 10-times faster than the available equipment.

“Now we have digital means of doing these surveys using GPS system so to date we have purchased about 50 sets.

“I am not sure about the costs, but those we have.

“It is very important to have accuracy to some centimeters if you are pegging the boundaries because the previous boundaries we were using estimates. . .”

Dr Mombeshora warned village heads, councillors and legislators who were allegedly parcelling out land illegally against it saying they would face prosecution.

“These village heads are the ones causing problems because they are selling State land.

“They are not doing it properly because in some cases they allocate land which is meant for other developmental purposes. Some pieces of land are meant for grazing, while others are wetlands and others are reserved for forests.

“So this has created a lot of illegal settlements which is creating chaos in our resettlement areas. We are at an advanced stage of removing those people, so we have identified hotspots where we are going to get those people out.”

Government resettlement around 300 000 families through the historic Land Reform Programme at the turn of the millennium, empowering indigenous Zimbabweans with a resource previously held by about 6 000 white farmers.

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