Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Farm levies way to go

Editorial Comment: Farm levies way to go

Rents and development levies for resettled farmers recently gazetted by the government under the Finance Act will spur development on farms and ensure that vast tracts of land acquired under the land reform programme are fully utilised. The Finance Act, assented to by President Robert Mugabe and published last Friday, states that resettled farmers with permits and 99-year leases in all natural regions from 1 to 5 will be expected to pay rent and a development levy.

The development levy will be used to develop infrastructure such as schools, dip tanks and roads among others.

According to the Act, A1 farmers will pay a $10-rental levy per year and $5 development levy per year, A2 farmers will pay a rental levy of $3 per hectare per year and a development levy of $2 per hectare per year for development.

The levies will be paid quarterly.

“The development levy shall be used to meet expenditure on the projects within the Rural District Council area from which the levy was collected. The projects include gully reclamation and other works related to soil conservation and prevention of soil erosion, provision, operation and maintenance of hospitals, clinics, dispensaries and schools and other educational institutions, facilities and amenities connected therewith.

“The fund will also be used for the provision and maintenance of dip tanks and provisions, development and maintenance of roads,” reads the Act.

The Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, through the officers of the ministry designated by the secretary of that ministry, shall be responsible for the collection of the rentals and development levy on behalf of the State.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the rentals and development levies collected in terms of this chapter shall form part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“Persons liable to pay the development levy in terms of this chapter shall not be liable to pay any development imposed in terms of the Rural District Councils Act,” reads the Act.

According to the Act, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement shall cancel the offer letter of any holder who fails to pay rent for three consecutive quarters.

“Provided that if the holder of the offer letter tenders payment of the full amount of rentals due within 30 days after receiving written notice of cancellation of his or her offer letter, the offer letter shall be deemed not to have been cancelled.

“The provisions of a land settlement lease concerning the cancellation of the lease or of the Permit Regulations concerning the cancellation of the permit shall apply in the case of the failure by a lessee to pay any rentals.

“The amount of all rentals paid by the holder of an offer letter who becomes a lessee shall be deducted from any amount required to be paid by him or her in terms, of the land settlement lease as arrear rentals from the time the holder occupied the A2 farm to which the lease relates,” says the Act.

We welcome the gazetting of the rentals and development levies for resettled farmers and urge the government to ensure that the funds generated from the new fee structure are channelled back to the farming communities.

Most resettlement areas lack basic amenities and infrastructure such as roads, dams, schools and clinics and the new fund to be collected from levies will go a long way in addressing these anomalies. The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement has a huge task of ensuring that farmers pay up and we call on beneficiaries of the land reform programme to support government efforts to develop their communities.

The rentals and levies will also weed out unproductive farmers and those holding onto land for speculative purposes. Zimbabwe needs to return to its status as the breadbasket of southern Africa and to do that farmers need to put their shoulders to the wheel and utilise their pieces of land.


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