Mthabisi Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
THE ongoing downsizing of farms is not determined by race but natural agro-ecological factors, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has said.
In a statement in response to a recent article published in a local weekly newspaper purporting that the care card was being used to downsize farms, Minister Shiri reiterated that there are clear guidelines in the farm downsizing process.
“This Press statement is in response to an article which was published in the Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper of 26 June 2020 headlined ‘Fresh Land Seizures Target White Farmers’.
“The said newspaper article purported that two white farmers in Mashonaland West province, Mr Peter Drummond of Hunyani Estate and Mr Robert Davenport of Stapleford Farm are being victimised under the ongoing Government sanctioned programme of farm downsizing.
“As such the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture would like to set the record straight regarding that issue. According to the provisions of the Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020, Section 5 and 6, no person shall own a farm situated in a) Natural region 1 if the size of the farm exceeds two hundred and fifty hectares, Natural region 2 if the size of the farm exceeds five hundred hectares, Natural region 3 if the size of the farm exceeds seven hundred and fifty hectares, Natural region 4 if the size of the farm exceeds one thousand and five hundred hectares and Natural region 5 if the size of the farm exceeds two thousand hectares,” Minister Shiri said.
He said the two are occupying farms which are bigger than the stipulated farm size in their region, hence the need to downsize them.
“Against the aforementioned and as per the Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020, it is therefore in line with Government policy that the ministry is undertaking a nationwide exercise of regulating farm sizes to comply with the gazetted maximum farm size for each respective ecological region.
“Narrowing down to the Zimbabwe Independent article, the following facts should be borne in mind. Firstly both farmers, Mr Drummond and Mr Davenport, are beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme since they are undertaking their operations on State land and not private land. Secondly, both farmers are domiciled in an area in Mashonaland West where the maximum farm size is 500ha by virtue of this area falling under Natural Ecological Region 2,” said Minister Shiri.
“Contrary to the stipulated 500ha maximum farm size for that region, Mr Drummond’s Hunyani Estate measures 2 800ha in extent while Mr Davenport’s Stapleford Farm measures 1 800ha. This obtaining situation justifies the inclusion of the two farmers, among others, on the list of farms earmarked for downsizing.”
Minister Shiri said the process of downsizing farms will go on and is done competently.
“It should be noted that the regularisation of farm sizes, in line with Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020, is a process which is ongoing and affecting many farmers. Let me hasten to categorically state that the implementation process is being religiously pursued without any bias, discrimination, nepotism and favouritism.
“For the avoidance of doubt, clearing of suspicion and fallacies such as those which were peddled by the Zimbabwe Independent article on 26 June 2020, regularisation of farm sizes is a transparent Government exercise which is being done without consideration of one’s colour or creed,” he said.
Minister Shiri said his ministry will continue with the programme openly, allowing all farmers with queries to approach him for redress.
“If a farmer is allowed to continue operating on a farm which is above the gazetted maximum size, that should not be taken as a right but a privilege.
“Queries can only be raised when one has been downsized below the allowable farm size for the region,” said Minister Shiri. — @mthabisi_mthire.