Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
President Mugabe yesterday opened a new chapter in the land reform programme when he launched A1 settlement permits which ensure that farmers have security of tenure and can be used as collateral.
The permits, which confirm ownership of specific pieces of land by newly-resettlement farmers, were launched at Chifundi Farm in Mashonaland West Province, where 79 A1 farmers from the farm and from Emily Park Farm were handed the first batch.
The permits are not transferable and bear a map of the plot allocated and details of the beneficiaries and their spouses, even in cases of polygamy.
They state that each farmer is entitled to six hectares of arable land and access to communal grazing land.
The President said the permits were a seal on the land reform programme and would complement the 99-year leases launched in November 2006 in a bid to securitise the land and give beneficiaries security of tenure on the farms.
“Following the successful implementation of our land reform programme, today’s event is appropriately akin to putting the icing on the cake,” President Mugabe said. “Today, we indeed celebrate the emancipation and empowerment of our people as we unveil the A1 settlement permits.”
President Mugabe said the permits would be issued to only those who were productive and had infrastructural developments on their plots.
He said the permits for the A1 farmers and leases for A2 farms were a shield against Western machinations to reverse the land reform programme through the MDC-T.
The President warned people against inviting white former commercial farmers back to the land saying he was aware that some Government ministers were sub-letting farms acquired under the land reform programme to such people, while some chiefs were illegally settling people.
He said ministers should lead by example and warned that action would be taken against those who breached regulations.
“If there are those who still believe that the land they acquired was to afford them places to visit over weekends for braais and picnic parties, or for prestige or as places for interment when they pass on, then surely these will, sooner than later, lose the farms allocated to them,” he said.
“We are aware that some have either abandoned land allocated to them without having constructed any buildings thereon; others have sub-leased the land, or surrendered it to individuals for lease rentals which are a pittance. What annoys us even more is where our own indigenous farmers sub-lease to the very same white farmers we took our heritage from yesterday.”