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Zim proposing bill to make land acquisition easier

2nd December 2003


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The Zimbabwe government plans to amend the country's controversial land law to allow it to take land more easily from white farmers, and more of it, according to details of an amending bill published by the state-run Herald yesterday.

A major change would be the scrapping of a requirement that a preliminary notice of acquisition by government should be served personally on the farm owner.

"This provision has proved difficult to implement ... because often the owner no longer occupies the land and cannot otherwise be located," reads the preamble to the bill.

The bill proposes that a preliminary acquisition notice be published only in the Government Gazette, which is a weekly publication sold by the government printers.

It also states that the total land that government initially said it wanted to compulsorily acquire from whites for blacks "is the minimum hectarage only".

The government had indicated that it wanted to acquire 11-million hectares or 30% of Zimbabwe's land, from some 4 500 white farmers.

A recent audit by a government appointed team said the amount of land owned by white farmers was down to roughly 1,2-million hectares (on 1 377 farms) after the controversial reforms launched in 2000.

Whites used to own a third of the country's land - 70% of prime farmland - before the government launched a "fast-track" land reform programme in 2000 for redistributing it among new black farmers and landless blacks.

Early this year the government said that it had concluded its land reforms, but after that it continued to publish lists of farms it intended to acquire, then announced that the scheme was an ongoing process.

Most of the dispossessed white farmers have sought land in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana.

The country's land reforms have been partly blamed for a massive slump in the country's agricultural production in the last two years. – Sapa-AFP.



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