Zimbabwe's new farmers will have to pay rent for their farmhouses: report

2016-03-09 21:42

Harare - Zimbabwe's new black farmers will soon have to pay rent for the once white-owned farmhouses they were given under President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme, it was reported on Wednesday.

The official Chronicle newspaper said rentals would vary from between $400 and $1 000 US per year "depending on the size and condition of the houses”.

The money from the rentals appears to be intended to help raise cash for a proposed compensation fund for white ex-farmers, according to an official document shared by legal watchdog @veritaszim.

The document entitled "Constitution of Land Compensation Fund" says: "The income of the fund shall consist of land rental and rentals for improvements from beneficiaries of the land reform programme who were allocated land under the A1, A2, small-scale and commercial farm settlement schemes." Farmhouses are considered to be part of land improvements.

Under Mugabe's land reforms launched in 2000, more than 6 000 white farms were taken for redistribution.

Some of those farms had more than one house: In some cases there were as many as five.
One accusation levelled against some of those who took the farms was that they wanted the houses as "weekend retreats". 

New farmers are already supposed to pay rent for their fields. This is the first time rent for the houses have been mentioned.

Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora told the Chronicle that government departments would be allowed to occupy farmhouses rent-free - but everyone else will have to pay.

The minister was quoted as saying: "In cases where there are no government departments who are prepared to take over the properties we then lease out the buildings to individual farmers who want to take over."

Rents for a house the size of a typical farmhouse in one of Zimbabwe's major cities would likely be much more than $400 per month

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