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Risk of land repossession for Zimbabwe's resettled farmers

by Byo24
04 Jan 2011 at 05:09hrs | Views
The country's resettled farmers are at risk of losing the farms due to land tax arrears. Local authorities have threatened to hand over tax defaulters to the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement which should repossess the farms but appear powerless to do so as defaulters include senior government and party officials.

Many farmers feel that they are not obliged to pay the tax because they are struggling to raise the amounts or have not commenced
farming since the allocation of the land. To add to the rural district councils woes, the farmers despise the tax because they consider it to be a colonial relic.

War veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda said farmers should pay the necessary levies and ensure that the land they had been given were
productively utilised. However he added:

"Before the farms can be repossessed, the responsible authorities would have to establish the reasons why people have not been paying the
levies all along."

Councils have placed advertisements in the press imploring the farmers to pay up, some with deadlines of January 31. Failure to pay places many farmers resettled under the government's fast-track land reform programme at risk of losing their farming plots.

According to government over 300 000 peasant farmers were resettled under the A1 and A2 resettlement scheme, which saw the bulk of the
land being taken away from white farmers throughout the country for re-allocation to indigenous Zimbabweans under controversial circumstances.

A2 model farms were expected to engage in commercial farming while A1 model farms were smallholder plots on self-contained units and apparently both were expected to pay $3 per hectare annually. On average A1 farmers were allocated 10-15 hectares while A2 farms range from 15 hectares upwards.

Section 96 of the Rural District Act, which makes it a requirement that land levies be paid in rural areas, states in part: ". . . if a person is liable to a land development levy by virtue of being an owner referred to in paragraph (b) of the definition of "owner" in Section 95, the council may impose the land development levy either on the person referred to in paragraph (a) of that definition or on
the person referred to in paragraph (b) thereof but not on both".

Source - Byo24News