Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Expedite farms compensation

Expedite farms compensation

Financial Gazette 15.3.2018 

WHILE government has been prevaricating over issuance of bankable 99-year leases to resettled farmers to enable them to borrow from banks to finance their operations, the political elites have been privately negotiating with dispossessed farmers to secure titles to their own land. 

At least 1285 farms have been privately purchased during the course of the country’s controversial land reform programme by ruling party, government and military bigwigs and their cronies to get title deeds.

This betrays the hypocrisy of the political class, which is clearly aware of the necessity for title to agricultural land, but has failed or neglected to allow the rest of the land reform beneficiaries access to these critical documents. 

It is not in dispute that the country’s agricultural sector has suffered since government embarked on the land reform programme because of insufficient investment mainly due to unresolved land tenure.      .


Although the country has the second highest number of waterbodies in the region, its economy is still highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture and is, therefore, in desperate need of infrastructural development. 

Resettled farmers cannot access financing from banks because of lack of collateral security, which, before the land reform programme, was tra­ditionally in the form of title deeds for the land, or 99-year leases that were tradable on the land market. 

The 99-year leases were issued to tenants on State-owned farms gov­ernment had bought after independence in 1980. 

Banks could sell these on the market in the event that holders default­ed on loan payments. 

Currently, beneficiaries of the land reform programme only have of­fer letters, which are not bankable. 

A proposal is currently on the table to issue 99-year leases to the new land owners. The problem, however, is that these have caveats allowing government to repossess the farms on short notice. 

This will make the documents risky collateral and, therefore, unac­ceptable to banks for lending. 

Title deeds are critical in creating a land market, the absence of which makes the farms dead capital. 

Government has not compensated dispossessed white farmers in or­der to secure title deeds to confiscated land. We understand this is the primary reason for its failure to restore the old tenure system for commercial farms in order to unlock land value and revive the economy. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Robert Mugabe in November last year, has reiterated his government’s commitment to compensate former white farmers.      

Compensation is critical in restoring property rights and creating certainty in the economy, to which agriculture remains a critical sector.


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