Errant farmers risk losing land

HARARE - Government has threatened to repossess land from farmers who let their livestock roam unattended. 

In a press statement released on Wednesday, Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri said: “Farmers who continue to be a problem risk having their offer letters withdrawn so as to enable production to continue without unnecessary interruptions. We encourage farmers to report to our extension staff and to the police such problem farmers.”

He urged farmers to erect boundary fencing within three months after their farms have been surveyed to limit the free roaming of livestock.

Shiri further warned farmers to desist from threatening agricultural extension officers on official assignments in the resettlement areas.

“There are, however, increasing disturbing and unwarranted incidents of government personnel, who will be conducting official assignments, being harassed and threatened by some farmers,” he said.

“This must stop forthwith. The government reserves the right to cancel offer letters to such troublesome individuals.

“On the other hand, staff should strive to be professional all the time. Farmers should report all staff that display unbecoming behaviour to the authorities for corrective action to be taken,” Shiri said.

However, Shiri’s threats come on the back of an Administrative Court ruling last year stating that the Lands and Rural Resettlement ministry has no powers to withdraw offer letters it would have issued to farmers.

According to the ruling passed by Justice Herbert Mandeya, only the president has such powers.

He made the ruling in a case in which the Lowveld Sugar Cane Growers Association sued the then Lands and Rural Resettlement minister for withdrawing their offer letters.

The association was offered land by government under the land reform programme through offer letters from the ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.

The ministry later withdrew the letters on the strength of Clause 7 in the Agricultural Land Resettlement Act.

The clause reads: “The minister reserves the right to withdraw or change this offer letter if he deems it necessary, or if you are found in breach of any of the set conditions.”

The Association argued that the ministry had no such powers, adding that Clause 7 of the offer letter issued to the members was in fact prohibited by law and, therefore, not enforceable.

It further argued that the Agricultural Land Settlement Act Chapter 20:01, which empowers the ministry to issue offer letters to beneficiaries of the land reform, empowered only the President of Zimbabwe to withdraw the letters. – Financial Gazette

Comments (1)

I don't understand then how the lease agreements become bankable? What would stop a failed farmer to borrow from a bank and then "let" their farm to be repossessed and claim "incapacity" to repay?

Chitoto - 28 April 2018

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