Land Commission Bill to address disputes, challenges
THE Land Commission Bill will go a long way in addressing disputes and challenges emanating from the land reform programme, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Douglas Mombeshora, has said.
Minister Mombeshora said although the country’s land reform programme redressed historical imbalances, the exercise resulted in a number of challenges that need to be addressed.
He said the challenges include boundary disputes, double allocations, occupations without offer letters, forged offer letters, settlers being denied access to their plots, sharing of infrastructure, compensation of former farmers, under-utilisation of land as well as vandalism and theft of equipment.
The Minister said the Land Commission Bill empowers the Commission to conduct comprehensive inspections and audits of agricultural land.
He said the proposed law would also enable the Land Commission to carry out its functions efficiently, effectively and impartially as envisaged by the Constitution.
“Such a massive exercise achieved in a relatively short period of time resulted in a number of administrative issues like boundary disputes, double allocation and infrastructure sharing problems among others which need to be addressed holistically, hence the establishment of the Land Commission Bill through Section 296 of the Constitution,” said Minister Mombeshora in Parliament on Tuesday during the Bill’s second reading.
He said although Zimbabwe’s land reform programme was the biggest in Africa, huge problems remain.
“About 6 000 white farmers have been replaced by 245 000 indigenous farmers and most of them are farming. The area of land redistribution to date stands at 12,6 million hectares.
They have raised their own standard of living and have reached production levels of the former white farmers and with a bit of support they are ready to substantially increase that production,” Minister Mombeshora said.
He said the Bill was a milestone which seeks to repeal two colonial-era pieces of land settlement and tenure legislation, the Rural Land Act and the Agricultural Land Settlement Act which were enacted in 1963 and 1969.
“In terms of the legislative background to this Bill, it is the first significant legislative intervention in the sphere of land reform and land tenure since the Land Acquisition Act of 1992 and the various amendments to that Act (the last of which was in 2002),” said Minister Mombeshora. — @pamelashumba1