How To Acquire A Land In Zimbabwe

By | January 2, 2023

How To Acquire A Land In Zimbabwe

In this article tries to answer the question by publishing How To Acquire A Land In Zimbabwe

Below are How To Acquire A Land In Zimbabwe

LAND ownership and distribution has been at the centre of disputes in Zimbabwe since pre-colonial days. This escalated through land appropriation by the white minority, leading to the war of liberation, whose major raison d’etre was the transfer of land ownership to the majority blacks.

Zimbabwe, whose economy is agro-based, has 39.6 million hectares land area.

The FAO says only 8.24% (4.31 million hectares) of it is arable, with 0.33% under permanent crops.

Land ownership remains a major issue in Zimbabwe, where nearly 70% of the population is rural and dependent on agriculture.


British settlers colonized Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for 90 years. The era witnessed massive dispossession of black landowners through a system of repression, segregation, and violence (see Table below).

1889Lipper ConcessionBasis of land expropriation
1889The Native Reserves Order in CouncilSystematic mass land expropriation by whites to get the lion’s share of fertile land
1930Land Apportionment ActFormalise separation of land between blacks and whites
1951Native Land Husbandry ActEnforced private ownership of land, destocking and conservation practices on black small holders
1965Tribal Trust Lands (TTL) ActChanged Native Reserves to high population densities homelands

By 1914, 23,730 white settlers owned about 19 million acres of prime land, while about 752,000 Africans had been pushed to poor marginal 21,390,080 acres.

The white settlers took the best land (51%), leaving the Africans with infertile lands (22%), while the remaining state land (27%) was set aside for forestry and national parks.

In 1965, the white minority government unilaterally declared itself independent from British control, vowing there would be no black majority rule. This forced the nationalist movements to launch a guerrilla war, culminating in independence in 1980.

Land reform in post-independent Zimbabwe

Post independence land reform sought to resettle the black majority from unproductive native reserves by enactment.

1980Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development (ZIMCORD)Britain’s pledge blocked provision for compulsory acquisition without compensation
1981The Communal Land ActShifted authority from traditional leadership to local authorities
1985The Land Acquisition ActLancaster House Agreement (1979) willing seller/willing buyer gave government first right to purchase large-scale farms
1985The Land Reform & Resettlement ActFair compensation for land acquired
1992The Land Acquisition ActAcquisition of more land for resettlement
1998Donors Conference and the Second Phase of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programmed (LRRP)Donors endorsed the land reform/ resettlement for poverty reduction, economic growth and stability

Land reform phases:

  • market-based system“willing seller–willing buyer” in the first 10 years since 1980;
  • compulsory acquisitions(1992-2000), based on gazetted compensation fees;
  • land occupations by war veterans and villagers (1998-2000);
  • Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FT LRP 2000).

Land ownership map

Land CategoryTotal AreaIndividual SizeOwnership1980(Million ha)2010(Million ha)
Large Scale Commercial farms1,377,000 ha2,200 ha+/-300 white farmers and black farmers15.5 ha3.4 ha
Small Scale Commercial farms1.4 ha1.4 ha
A22,918,334.08 ha318 ha16,386 farmers0.0 ha3.5 ha
A15, 759,153.89 ha6 ha (excluding grazing)145,775 farmers0.0 ha4.1 ha
Old Resettlement3,500,000 ha46ha (including grazing)76,000 farmers0.0ha3.5ha
Communal16, 400,400 ha12ha(includes grazing & forest)1,300, 000 farmers16.4 ha16.4 ha
National Parks & Forests5.1 ha5.1 ha
State Farms0.5ha0.7 ha
Urban Land0.2 ha0.3 ha
Unallocated Land0.0 ha0.7 ha

One study showed that the majority of beneficiaries were from overpopulated villages, 6.7% former farm workers, ex-mine workers, 18% from urban areas, 16.5%, civil servants, 4.8% business people, 3.7% security service, trained agriculturalists and women, who constitute 51% of the population.

Land Tenure

Today, Zimbabwe has multi-form tenure, with multiple tenure types applying in the different area of land (freehold, lease, permit, communal and state land).

Post-settler economy pattern persists in Zimbabwe, with large-scale farms retaining freehold, granted to white settlers during colonization, while former tribal lands became de jure state-owned lands. Those communal areas have de facto rights delegated to communities  (including chiefs), under the oversight of rural district councils.

The large scale and small scale commercial farmers occupy about 32% of the country’s land under individual land ownership which guarantees exclusive property rights and full control and responsibility over the land and infrastructure. Statutory provisions such as control over public watercourses and wildlife may limit the exclusive control.

The Communal Areas Act vests powers in the President for its occupation and utilization and is applicable to 42% of Zimbabwe’s land where about 70% of the country’s population resides.

Rural district councils allocate land to qualified persons on behalf of the State.

Post-independence Zimbabwe introduced non-titled Resettlement Areas, covering 10% of the country to de-congest the communal areas. The resettlement area was established under a restrictive permit system, while following 2000, offer letters (substituted by land permits) and 99-year leases were proposed, with a 25 year concession proposed for wildlife conservancies.

The State further gazetted 15% of the country’s land as protected forests (2%) and national parks (13%).

Currently, regulations restrict multiple farm ownership and encourage wide distribution of land based on commitment to social justice and the distribution of national productive assets as enshrined in the cross party agreed national Constitution

What are the forms of land use in Zimbabwe?

The land holding rights and obligations in Zimbabwe find their expression in the country’s four main systems of land tenure, namely the freehold (private), state land, communal and leasehold (resettlement) systems.

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