Two men stand by the the gates of a farm which they seized from white farmers in Chegutu 120km south west of Harare in 2009. Picture: Desmond Kwande

Harare -

Zimbabwe’s beneficiaries of land taken from white farmers since 2000 will soon have to pay rentals of between R10 and R30 for each hectare every year as the government is drawing up 99-year leases for that land.

The lands ministry has long been talking about fully bankable leases for so-called new farmers, but says it has been hamstrung by a lack of cash to process them and only completed 10 leases in the past six months, according to permanent secretary Sophia Tsvakwi, quoted today in the main daily, The Herald.

“There have been concerns over the slow pace of processing 99-year leases, but it all boils down to the unavailability of resources to carry out surveys and on-site inspections which will ensure that we do not create boundary disputes that will later haunt our farmers,” Tsvakwi said.

All land taken from more than 4 000 white commercial farmers is owned by the state.

Only about 200 of the displaced farmers have received some compensation since President Robert Mugabe ordered land invasions after he lost a referendum for a new constitution in February 2000.

New farmers on that land struggle to raise loans to buy seed, fertiliser and equipment as they cannot use it as security for the loans.

About 200 000 families received smaller pieces of land, usually about 12ha.

About 18 000 mostly Zanu-PF officials - including the security forces, senior civil servants such as Zimbabwe’s judges, and MPs - received portions.

Tsvakwi said that those who had taken more than one farm, and now occupied thousands of mostly unused hectares, would probably give up much of the land they took because they would not be able to afford to pay rent.

- The Star