Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
THE Association of Rural District Councils (ARDCs) has appealed to Government seeking control of land levy collections so as to boost their revenues.
At the moment land levies are administered by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement.
ARDC president, Mr David Mutasa, said all the 60 RDCs countrywide were facing revenue generation challenges hence their plea to have control over land levies.
“The Ministry of Lands should not allocate land. This should be our prerogative as RDCs. As RDCs we are fully behind the land reform and will continue to support Government,” he said.
Debate on control of land levies took centre stage at the recent RDCs conference here that was attended by President Mnangagwa. The councils argued that a majority of farms and mining claims were located within their geographical boundaries hence it was their right to collect land levies.
During the dialogue Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister, Douglas Karoro, said some of the councils were actually collecting levies even from illegal settlers and bemoaned overcrowding in some A1 farming areas due to haphazard land allocation.
“Most A1 farms have been invaded by illegal settlers hence it’s a challenge because most of them have exceeded their carrying capacity. There is also corruption as some have permits and some RDCs collect levies from them,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said the ongoing land audit will address all the challenges related to land occupation.
“It’s in the interest of the ministry to know who is occupying what and the land audit will give comprehensive database. Data is fragmented and we request the district committees to release this A1 and A2 database to facilitate billing system and so that it is cleaned,” said Deputy Minister Karoro.
He said there 149 743 A1 and 19 558 A2 farms were availed since inception of the land reform. About 2 500 A1 permits from selected A1 farms in all provinces were issued, he added. The Deputy Minister said Government was struggling to clean the land database because of lack of funding.
During the conference, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said the RDC Act empowers councils to inspect land and claims around them and collect levy.
He, however, implored local authorities to craft by-laws that give them a legal standing whenever they undertake any project. The minister warned local authorities against engaging in unplanned allocation of land. — @ncubeleon