The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president, Andrew Pascoe, is set to be appointed Minister of State, a move which will ensure the smooth flowing of compensation of former farm owners, Business Times established this week.
Although it is President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who appoints and announces the appointment of ministers, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, Anxious Masuka, told farmers at a meeting held in the capital last week that Pascoe has landed a top post in the government.
“Government has elevated the CFU president Andrew Pascoe to become a State Minister,” Masuka told farmers.
He added: “He will ensure the 99-year lease issuance and compensation processes are done without challenges.
“The former farm owners will no longer apply through provinces for consideration for tenure documents. They would apply directly to their own office and these applications would come directly to the Minister of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s office for consideration for the tenure documents and other compensation-related issues.”
Currently, the process to get farm documentation is long.
The farmers apply to provincial and district lands committees chaired by Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution at the provincial level.
The provincial lands committee meets and makes recommendations that are forwarded to the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister for consideration before issuing an A2 permit.
Masuka said the process to acquire permits has resulted in 308 former commercial farmers applying for tenure documents.
“Of these, I have issued 272 permits and out of that number 176 former farm owners have now applied for 99-year leases which are the highest form of tenure document in terms of the A2 processes that we have in the country,” Masuka said.
He said former farm owners do not need any vetting as they saw it all and did all hence can get titles without any hindrances.
It is understood that out of over 4000 farms that former farmers had, only 308 farms have been spared.
For the rest of the people, the requirement was that if one had an offer letter or an A2 permit one would go to the department of lands and lodge an application to be considered for assessment for eligibility to access a 99-year lease and one would pay a fee.
Overall, 480 farmers have acquired the 99-year leases out of the total of 24 000 A2 farmers.
“In terms of ease of doing business and transiting from land reform, one does not have to apply for a 99-year lease, any A2 offer letter holder or permit holder in the country needs not to apply for a 99-year lease as the administration has directed the use of the annual production and productivity returns which are now mandatory for A1 and A2 to produce annually.
“The bankability and transferability are handled by the Attorney General’s office who is working to ensure farmers access money through these securitised documents.
“My role is to look at enhancing production within the current framework of the law and in doing so we have said let’s remove the onerous requirements of having to apply for a 99-year lease and having to pay for it.
“It becomes an automatic qualification once you complete this production and productivity return forms which will assist us in identifying idle land,” he said.
The government is seeking ways to make acquired land bankable and to send some kind of market through the securitisation of 99-year leases without compromising the distributive effect of the land reform.