Thursday, 1 February 2018

99 YEAR LEASES FOR WHITE FARMERS

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has granted the few remaining white commercial farmers 99-year leases in a bid to enable them to secure financing from banks and to pay rent towards the compensation fund. 

This comes as evicted white farmers have reportedly tabled a $9 billion compensation claim before Mnangagwa for assets expropriated during the chaotic land grabs.

Local Government minister July Moyo directed provincial resettlement officers to immediately issue all remaining white commercial farmers with 99-year leases.

“Please be informed that the minister of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement has directed that all remaining white farmers be issued 99-year leases instead of the 5-year leases as per the previous arrangement,” Moyo wrote.


Previously, government had limited white commercial farmers’ leases to just five years while their black counterparts enjoyed 99-year long leases.

Despite government assurances to beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s controversial fast-track land reform programme, local banks continue to reject 99-year leases as collateral, with beneficiaries unable to ensure full productivity as they lack capacity and struggled to access loans from banks.

The banks have been insisting they want transferable title as collateral, not 99-year leases
The 400 or so remaining white farmers had continued to farm after satisfying a number of requirements approved by government provincial officers.

Deposed president Robert Mugabe — saying he sought to correct colonial injustices — introduced land reforms in 2000 which led to thousands of experienced white farmers being evicted.

The land grab led to about 4 5000 white farmers being evicted from their land by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans over the past 16 years, often violently. More than a dozen farmers were killed.

The five-year leases given to remaining white farmers were subject to renewal upon meeting certain conditions at the expiry of the documents.

The 99-year leases were introduced to address issues of security of tenure in respect to the A2 model, as a tool for formalising occupancy of redistributed farms to beneficiaries who would have paid lease rentals.

However, white commercial farmers are taking government position with a pinch of salt.
“The interesting thing will be, firstly, whether the 99-year lease wording has changed. At the moment, it’s effectively a ... lease that does not attract any kind of collateral value for financing purposes.

“Secondly, what the rental will be and, thirdly, how latent title deed ownership rights will be effected by signing it,” white Zimbabwean farmer and human rights activist Ben Freeth said. Daily News

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