Corporate bodies other than Statutory bodies, churches and educational institutions will be able to hold the Government’s 99-year lease albeit with conditions attached to it while farmers will be subjected to annual rent and to purchase improvements on the leasehold.
According to the draft document which will soon be presented before Cabinet, Government will give out leases to ZSE listed companies, companies licenced under section 26 of the Companies Act, and private companies whose controlling interest is held by Zimbabweans and those who do not have shareholders which hold an offer letter or a lease in his or her own right or a controlling interest in the private company.
The draft also says that the land subject of the leasehold consists predominantly (not less than 50% of the arable land) of plantation or forest land or land subject to intensive agribusiness.
Recently, Lands and and Rural Resettlement minister Dr Doug Mombeshora said that once the relevant processes are completed, farmers would now be able to use the land tenure titles to obtain loans from banks to finance their activities.
Government will also require interested farmers to submit a development plan covering a period of at least five years as a condition for signing the lease. Farmers will be required to initiate minimum developments on the leasehold such as:
(a) development of a permanent homestead and water supply adequate for the primary human and animal needs of the Leasehold, within the boundaries of the Leasehold;
(b) provision of access roads suitably sited, constructed and protected against erosion as approved by the Designated Officer;
(c) erection of adequate decent employees’ accommodation with access to water and sanitation facilities for workers employed on the leasehold;
(d) in the case of a Leasehold which is to be developed primarily for cropping purposes, clearance and protection not less than 30% of the assessed arable hectarage per year;
(e) in the case of a Leasehold which is or is to be developed as forest land or as a plantation, clearance and protection not less than 50% of the arable or exploitable land for the purposes of forestry or for plantation purposes, as the case may be.
The draft lease allows farmers to sublet infrastructure such as agro-processing infrastructure, dip tanks and tobacco barns but they may not cede, assign, hypothecate or otherwise alienate or sublet in whole or in part, or donate or dispose of his or her lease or any of his or her rights, interests or obligations under this Lease, or place any other person in possession of the leasehold; or enter into a partnership for the working of the leasehold. It also wants farmers to make one-time payments for capital improvements such as dams, barns, roads and buildings
Government will give at least six months’ notice if it wants to retake the land for public purposes.
Interestingly, according to a ZimAsset progress report on security of tenure under the Food and Nutrition cluster, three 99-year leases have been issued already.