Zimbabwean government remains adamant on not issuing titles on farmland

2021-04-09 12:30:36 GMT2021-04-09 20:30:36(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

HARARE, April 9 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has said that it will not accede to the transferability of land because its ownership and farming are two distinctive items that should be separated.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka said farming is a business enterprise where one does not need to own land to be productive, the Herald newspaper reported Friday.

Masuka, who was giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture, said the viability of farming is determined by project proposals and not whether one owns the land or not.

The committee wanted the minister to outline his vision to transform agriculture and asked him what the government would deal with title on land as requested by financial institutions that refuse to recognize 99-year leases arguing they are not bankable.

"Land is vested in the President and cannot be transferred because its ownership is not a measure of productivity. I think the issue of title deeds is taken out of context.

"I have often said you do not need to own a building to operate it. If you want to do business you can rent, you don't need to own a house. Everyone seems to be saying I need to own the land to farm. That is a wrong approach to farming. The land is vested in the President for the right reasons.

"Land ownership and farming are different. Farming is a business that happens on land, so the two are separate, and we often think they are not," Masuka said. "There is not necessarily a link between land ownership and the transfer of land."

He said the government believes that the 99-year leases are bankable despite the decision by the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe to reject them, insisting on the title that would result in the transferable title on the land.

Masuka said negotiations with financial institutions would continue, but the government has also revived the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) to provide funding to agriculture.

"We have taken this deliberate step to ensure that the agriculture space can be adequately funded. In fact, in terms of the construction of AFC, we are saying the viability of any entity depends on the project proposal's viability, not on who is on the piece of land or tenure document," he said. "That is where we are going and I hope that banks will join us."

Since financial institutions regard land as being of no value because of lack of title, they are opting for houses and other personal property as collateral when giving out loans to farmers. Enditem