Government plans to soon reduce huge farms to reasonably small pieces of land to meet demand from more land-hungry Zimbabweans before bringing closure to the land redistribution chapter, a Cabinet minister has revealed.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Government was working to ensure that beneficiaries of the land reform received proper legal documents to secure their tenure and enable them to access bank loans.
Government has compulsorily acquired over 12 million hectares of arable land previously occupied by white farmers. Some black beneficiaries got vast swathes of land they can't put to effective use.
Addressing students of the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 30 in Harare on Thursday, Minister Chinamasa said current offer letters were not sufficient security as they could be withdrawn by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
Minister Chinamasa said after demaracting new boundaries, Government would work on 99-year leases that could be used as collateral.
"We are doing this through the 99-year leases and to do the 99-year lease, we need a resurvey of the land for the new boundaries. As you know, the 11 million or 12 million hectares were acquired compulsorily. We need to cut it up into small pieces. We now must establish the new boundaries as a prerequisite to granting 99-year leases," said Minister Chinamasa.
"We also need to bring finality to that issue (land reform) and we are saying all those who benefited under the land reform programme must have proper legal instruments to secure their tenure so as to encourage them to make investments on the pieces of land given to them," he said.
"We also need to carry out assessment of compensation for improvements where the Constitution requires us to have paid for improvements and also the land where, as in BIPPA, we are required to pay compensation for both land and improvements," he said.
The minister added: "There will be lot of surveys both for A1 and A2 so that we know where the boundaries are. It's only after your 99-year lease that you can be secure. Those of you who have got land you will see at the bottom of your offer letter that the offer letter can be withdrawn by the Ministry of Lands any time. That's no good security.
"It's very important that we expedite the issuance of security documents so as to encourage more investments on our land. The implementation of these measures, we think, will help to boost agricultural productivity through enhanced access to finance."
Minister Chinamasa said Government had also come up with a number of initiatives to unlock funding opportunities for small businesses.
He said this was largely due to the fact that the economy had been informalised.
"We are also promoting what I call anchor financing models," he said.
"These are basically to build linkages between big businesses and small businesses. As all of us are aware, our economy is now largely informalised and there are challenges with the SMEs - challenges with access to capital, access to skills, access to suitable and appropriate accommodation, whether they are factories, whether they are retail enterprises," said the Minister.
"We essentially need to build linkages to ensure that we see growth in the SMEs to a level where we can say they are now big players. To do so we have encouraged the setting up of macro-finance institutions. We have capitalised the Women's Bank, $10 million, micro-finance bank," he said.
"We have also set aside money for the Youth Bank, which they call Empower Bank, another $10 million. In the private sector, there are about 150 or so macro-finance institutions - some more successful than others and this is basically to encourage access by SMEs to capital, which they badly need."