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SENATE HANSARD 07 FEBRUARY 2017 26-25
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 7th February, 2017
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock pm
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE
BILL RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I have to inform
the House that I have received the Finance Bill [H.B. 3, 2017] from the National Assembly.
INVITATION TO A NETWORKING DINNER FOR COTTON
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I also have to
inform the House that Members of Parliament from cotton growing areas are invited by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe to a networking dinner on Wednesday the 15th of February, 2017 at 1800 hours at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. Members interested in attending the dinner should confirm attendance with Mr. M. Godzongere from the Public
Relations Department, office number 516 on the 5th floor, south wing at
Pax House not later than the end of the day on Thursday, the 9th of February, 2017.
LAND COMMISSION BILL [H.B. 2A, 2016]
First Order read: Adjourned debate on the Second Reading of the Land Commission Bill [H. B. 2A, 2016].
Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President. I wish to debate the Land Commission Bill as one of the…
HON. SEN. MARAVA: On a point of order Madam President.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order, what is
your point of order?
HON. SEN. MARAVA: Madam President, my point of order is on the very same Bill, the Land Commission Bill. The way it was introduced to this House, when I personally looked at the Bill and what was mentioned in this House, there is a lot to be desired. There seems to be a lot of disagreements. My wish is that we look at the Hansard first before we can continue with this second reading. Thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Unfortunately,
what you are requesting is unprocedural and cannot be granted. The Bill was passed in the Lower House and this House asked for some time to look at it and time was granted, so we have to continue with the debate.
HON. SEN. MUMVURI: I said thank you for giving me time to debate this Land Commission Bill. I happen to be one of the
Chairpersons who went out to consult the people and here is my report.
Agricultural land is crucial resource in Zimbabwe given that the economy is agro-based. Approximately 70% of the population lives in rural areas and the majority derive their livelihoods and income from farming, livestock production and related activities. In Africa, 60% of the population is heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities. In the process, several continental conflicts and wars have been raging over the access and control of land and natural resources. Even in Zimbabwe, the Select Committees on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and that of Peace and Security observed during public consultations that the land question remains a very emotive one.
Since 1980, several land policies have been enacted to address the land question and another opportunity has availed itself for the Eighth Parliament to enact a law, which seeks to address challenges being faced by farmers particularly, beneficiaries of the fast-track reform process that began in 2000. Once these issues are addressed, it will go a long way in improving productivity, competitiveness and food security in the agricultural sector.
2. Background to the Land Question in Zimbabwe
Land conflicts in Zimbabwe began in 1893 through an uprising, after the Ndebele kingdom had been dispossessed of its land and relocated to Gwaai and Shangani reserves. The First and Second Chimurenga were launched by the black majority who sought to recover their lost land. Even after attaining independence, land remained heavily skewed in favour of the minority whites. There was slow progress in addressing the land imbalance due to lack of funding for the Government to buy the land and transfer it to the landless majority. As a result, there was a slowdown in the pace of land transfers in the first decade after independence. Naturally, a lot of landless Zimbabweans were disappointed by the slow pace of land re-distributed, leading to protests and occupations in the 1990s.
In 1998, following a breakdown of negotiations between
Zimbabwe and Britain and other financiers, Government began in earnest to enact legal provisions, through amendments to the Constitution, allowing for the compulsory acquisition of land without compensation. The fast-track land reform programme which began in 2000, yielded positive results in that by 2010 about 11,7 million hectares owned by approximately 4 500 white commercial farmers had been reduced to 3,4 million hectares, and transferred to hundreds of thousands of landless Zimbabweans.
It is important to note that the fast-track land reform programme was complex and gave rise to a number of challenges such as: double allocations, occupations without offer letters, forged offer letters, boundary disputes, settlers being denied access to their plots, sharing of infrastructure, compensation of former farmers, under-utilization of land as well as vandalism and theft of equipment. Another challenge was in the co-ordination of land allocations such variations on statistics on land beneficiaries between several institutions at district and national institutions. It is against this background that the 2013 Constitution was inscribed with clauses calling for the establishment of a Land Commission to address these challenges.
In line with section 141 (b) of the Constitution which states that; “Parliament must ensure that interested parties are consulted about
Bills being considered by Parliament..”, the portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, together with the thematic Committee on Peace and Security conducted Public Hearings in all the ten provinces of the country. Participants at these public hearings included: representatives from farming associations, traditional leaders, women's groups, local authorities, representatives from wildlife conservancies, the youth and the elderly amongst others.
In addition, the select Committees attended a capacity building workshop on the Bill, where presentations were made by Permanent
Secretary of Lands and Rural Resettlement, representatives from the
Attorney General's Office, the Centre for Applied Research and Legal Services (CARL) and Commissioners from the Land Commission.
4.1 Independence of the Commission
Concern was raised regarding the 'independence' of the
Commission. The Commission is not an Executive Committee but will operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement. Section 6 (1) of the Bill highlights that the Commission should conduct its affairs impartially and independently, but this position is compromised by section 57 (1) of the Bill that states that the Minister may give policy directions to the Commission. Furthermore, section 57 (3) implores on the Commission “to take all necessary steps to comply with any direction given to it in terms of subsection (1)”
4.2 Selection Criteria of Commissioners
The process of selecting Commissioners is shrouded in secrecy and is not stated in the Bill or the Constitution. The select Committees of Parliament were informed that the selection process was the preserve of the Minister. Nobody knows the qualifications or expertise of these Commissioners that were appointed by the President in July 2016.
Section 296 (2) of the Constitution merely indicates that “members of the Zimbabwe Land Commission must be chosen for their integrity and competence in and knowledge and understanding of, the best practices in land management and administration and reflect the diversity of Zimbabwe's population, in particular its regional interests and gender balance”. The only clear position, is of the removal of the
Commissioners which is based on section 237 of the Constitution, which is the same process that is applied to independent Commissions established by Chapter 12.
4.3 Land Disputes
The select Committees of Parliament observed during the public hearing that the Commission has a huge workload in resolving land disputes. Most of these disputes have been politicized and were being exacerbated by corrupt officials in the Ministry of Lands. The land disputes took various forms and include:
- Sale of a piece of land to multiple persons, by land officers, ranging from US$3 000 to US$7 000;
- Double allocations and multiple farm ownership of land; iii. Displacement, threats, violence against initial occupiers of land by influential persons; iv. Desecration of heritage sites, sacred places, wetlands through uncoordinated land allocations.
- Disagreements on sharing of infrastructure such as tobacco barns, farm houses and water bodies; vi. Poor documentation or erasure of files or withdrawal of offer letters by the land officers; vii. Resettlement of persons on grazing land leading to challenges in productivity of livestock; viii. Disrespect of offer letters between disputants. A holder with a 99 year lease or permit is regarded as having more rights than a holder of an offer letter.
- Land allocations leading to congestion instead of decongestion in some areas, due to poor pegging and monitoring by land officers.
- Some District Land Committees contribute to land conflicts due to biased recommendations on land allocations;
- Traditional leaders were not being respected or consulted on land allocations. At times traditional leaders perpetrated land disputes through acts of nepotism and bias in land allocations.
- Inhabitants of an area not being given first preference in the allocation of land, but persons from other provinces were given priority. xiii. Disinheritance of vulnerable groups such as widows and orphans. xiii. The non-compensation of previous white farmers on improvements made on the land is leading to insecurity by new beneficiaries.
4.4. Security of Tenure
Farmers raised concerned that the Bill is silent on the issue of security of tenure. This is making it difficult for land beneficiaries to get investors or funding for agricultural activities. Furthermore, section 28 of the Bill makes it difficult for farmers to get investment in that it stipulates that “....an offer letter holder, lessee or permit holder shall not enter into a partnership for the working of his or her holding or portion of gazetted land without the consent in writing of the Minister”.
Farmers also highlighted that lack of funding and investment has led to under-utilization of land, an issue that will be investigated by the Commission in terms of section 297 (1) of the Constitution and section 21 of the Bill. Land beneficiaries expressed concern that there was high possibility of losing their land through land audits and farmers called upon the Commission to take into account all the factors leading to under-utilization of land.
4.5 Corporate Status of the Commission
Section 3 of the Bill, gives corporate status to the Commission with the capacity to sue and to be sued. However, section 58 of the Bill, seeks to protect Commissioners from legal action for the decisions taken in good faith and without gross negligence. Concern was raised that Commissioners should be held accountable for the decisions they take while in office, through legal proceedings, especially if they were prejudicial to the applicant or advantageous to Commissioners.
4.6 Land Tax
Section 56 of the Bill highlights that the Minister of Lands, after consultation with the Minister of Finance, may charge monthly or annul rentals to be paid by holders of land. Concern was raised that the levies were unjustifiable in that they did not take into account the agricultural activities and ecological regions of the country. An example was cited where livestock and wildlife producers located in ecological regions 4 and 5, in areas such as Matebeleland require more hectarage than those in crop production in region 1 and 2. Furthermore, there were calls that the Ministry of Lands should widen its consultations on the land tax and not just confide with the Minister of Finance. Other factors that needed to be taken into account in determining land taxes include; financial resources, climatic patterns, farming equipment at the disposal of the farmers. The Minister of Lands was accused of being insensitive to the plight of farmers, through the high rental charges.
4.7 Accessibility of the Commission
Section 59 of the Bill states that the Commission shall endeavour to establish offices at provincial, district and other administrative levels “.....as it considers fit for the better performance of its functions”. This provision should make it mandatory rather than leave it to the discretion of the Commission. Land holders are located in rural areas and most of them are struggling to get resources for their agricultural activities, hence it would prudent for the Commission to have offices located nearer to the affected than to be located in Harare, where there is little agricultural activity.
4.8 Classification of Agricultural Land
Section 72 of the Constitution defines agricultural land as that suitable for horticulture, viticulture, forestry, aquaculture, animal husbandry which includes keeping or breeding of livestock, game, poultry, animals or bees. Concern was raised that not much protection is given to biosphere areas located in places such as Honde Valley, Mana Pools and Middle Zambezi. These areas are protected under UNESCO conventions and should not be demarcated for land resettlement.
Furthermore, persons involved in wildlife farming are not given much support and recognition from Government Departments.
4.9 Gender Parity and Equality on Land Resources
In a book Beyond the Enclave, it is estimated that by 2003, under the A1 and A2 models, women constituted 18% and 12% respectively of the total land beneficiaries. The Select Committees of Parliament observed and heard of women being discriminated and dispossessed of land. Section 17 (1) ( c) of the Constitution states that “the State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources, including land, on the basis of equality with men”.
Furthermore, section 297 (1) (c) implores on the Land Commission to make recommendations on the “elimination of all forms of unfair discrimination, particularly gender discrimination”. These constitutional provisions are in line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the 2004
Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, which calls for action to address gender inequalities including women's unequal access to land. Other vulnerable groups that are being disinherited or disregarded in land allocations include orphans and the disabled.
4.10 Compensation of Former White Farmers
Section 72 (3) of the Constitution stipulates that previous white farmers should be compensated for the improvements that were effected on the farms before acquisition. The Zimbabwe Farmers Union highlighted that the bulk of its membership cannot access finances and opportunities under public-private investment as the land currently under their occupation is classified as “disputed land”.
4.11 Database on Land Ownership
Concern was raised that the National Land Register was not credible. The Select Committees of Parliament heard of cases where records of offer letters issued by officials from the Ministry of Lands disappeared from the system. At the same time, withdrawals of offer letters, double allocations multiple farm allocations were common. Part 8 of the Bill is devoted to the administration of the Land Register. It is important that the Ministry receives adequate funding to develop a modern database, which is foolproof and reliable. It is through a credible database that some of the contentious disputes can be resolved.
- The status of the Land Commission should be upgraded to that of an Executive Commission, similar those Commissions and
Institutions listed under Chapters 12 and 13 of the Constitution. This will enable the Land Commission to work independently and with undue influence from the Executive or anybody.
- The selection criteria of Commissioners should be transparent and the process should be based on Section 237 (1) of the Constitution, where Parliament is also involved.
- Section 28 (1) should promote investment into the agricultural sector rather than hinder it.
- Land disputes need to be depoliticized, especially by policymakers to enable the Commission to find lasting solutions.
- Inhabitants of an area should be given first preference in land allocations before aspiring persons from other areas are taken into consideration.
- Traditional leaders should be consulted in the land allocations and in dispute resolution.
- The right to land of vulnerable groups such as women, orphans, elderly and the disabled need to be respected in line with the Constitution and other legal instruments.
- Corrupt land officers should be removed from the system, instead of transferring them to other provinces. This does not solve the problem.
- The Ministry of Lands should be given adequate resources to conduct surveys and pegging of land in order to resolve disputes associated with boundaries.
- The principle of 'one-person, one-farm' should be implemented through a state of the art database, with software that can detect multiple ownership.
- Land taxes should be calculated based on the ecological region and agricultural practices. At the same time, the taxes should be
gazetted after broad consultations that involve farmer associations and other interested stakeholders.
- Complainants should be allowed to sue and pierce the corporate veil of the Commission in the event that it is not happy with its decisions.
- Land rights for women should be removed from the private sphere of marriage and family and placed in the public domain of human rights. Traditional leaders should be at the forefront in leading this process.
- Previous white farmers need to be compensated for the improvements made on the farms so that the new owners can source investment and become productive. Therefore, Treasury, in the 2017 should set an allocation for the compensation of improvements on farms previously owned by white farmers.
- The Land Commission should be visible in the ten provinces of the country and this should be made mandatory. Hence Treasury should avail funding.
- The Commission must look into ways of making sure that infrastructure in the former white farms such as dams, irrigation infrastructure, and homesteads is shared equally be shared by communities and not monopolized by particular individuals. The Bill should be clear on the authority that regulates the use of such infrastructure. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: Thank you Madam President. I want to
congratulate the Committee that is led by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri, that presented those findings after their visit into the country side to see what was happening on the ground and compared it with what is in the Bill. When you hear the contents of such a presentation one could be excused to think that it was written by the MDC. – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]- there is nothing to add or to subtract Madam President, that is perfect.
If the Bill does not encompass any of those recommendations then it is not worth supporting because it is solid and it takes care of women, the disabled and justice and fairness in lad distribution. There is nothing to add on to it. The chiefs like some of us have always argued are the owners of the land in Zimbabwe. - [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] - the land does not belong to the Government of this country because Governments come and go but the chiefs are there to stay. For the sake of continuity, avoiding future quarrels and fights with land owners, the last word must come from the chief that a person is welcome to stay where they are – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]- That is the only way those families can ever be secure. Without the agreement of the chief, no matter what you do - even if we are to pass it in this House, in years to come, those people will be thrown out of the land. To get proper security, get the nod from the chief. It does not matter then whether you come from Malawi or you are white, if the chief from Chiweshe, says yes you can stay here, that is the one that stays – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]- not what a party political Government said. So let us respect the owners of the land. Let us have them working side by side with the Commission and I can assure you that at last, the land problem in Zimbabwe will have been resolved permanently. I really want to thank Senator Mumvuri for the presentation, especially on how we distribute land. Let us do it using modern techniques. Let us use the
Land Commission who are trained to say at what point a place is so that you are not moved from point to point. Let everything be done professionally. Let us use software that will always say at the correct thing so that there are no fights in future. Let us avoid multiple ownership of land. No one is entitled to more than one farm but can only have so much.
There are so many people in Zimbabwe and if we are all to have ten farms each, there would not be enough land for everyone. So, it does not matter who you are, but one thing I would have added is that we should have a cap on the size of farms. Do not let a person own acres and acres that you can drive for one hour still in one farm. Let us have a cap on the size of farms and let each person get their piece of land regardless of their party political beliefs. Thank you Madam President.
HON. SEN. MARAVA: Thank you very much Madam
President. With your permission, can I refer to my scribbled notes? Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am running short of words when it comes to this document which I am holding. I do not know how it was drafted, but it leaves a lot to be desired. I have got five issues only. When I went through this Bill, it is short of a lot of important issues. The first and most important issue is that one of who should be the owners of the Bill, the traditional leaders, the chiefs. This Bill is completely silent about them.
When I read through, I was looking and I thought probably I will come to a Clause where the chiefs are talked about. I thought they were going to appear under Clause 21, Clause 23, and Clause 36 but there was nothing. When I came to the last page, there was nothing about the traditional leaders. We are the ones who usually shout on top of our voices that Zimbabwe respects their culture, tradition and history. Who is history without a chief and a traditional leader? – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]- Where is the guidance without the traditional leaders? What is really happening Madam President when we avoid them completely.
What is happening is not failure of understanding, it is deliberate.
Whoever was drafting or writing this Bill did it deliberately. Is it
because they wanted to hear what the chiefs would say or what would come from the mouths of the chiefs? I do not understand because traditional leaders know that they should be the leaders. If the leaders do not know them, at least involve them in this Commission. This is a sad situation Madam President because without these traditional leaders, who are our identity, then there is nothing.
Even the highest chair here Madam President. You come from a certain area, your chitupa or your I.D. has got a surname and a place of birth, a chief and a village. Never mind how women look down upon them, they are still leaders. Do not forget what happened here. It happened when VIDCO chairpersons once allocated land when the village head was there and what happened, the citizens of Zimbabwe tightly remained anchored with their chiefs. I am happy that the Government realised it later and they said something that should not be said that we are giving the chiefs their powers back. Ah, where had it gone to?
Madam President, my second point is on presidential interferences. While we respect our President and Ministers, they have got a lot on their hands. They can do with that. They should not interfere too much and they should not fail the Zimbabwean population by saying that we have got a Commission when we have got a power map. It is a power map and it is not a Commission. If you go through this Bill Madam
President, you will agree with me that this is power being claimed by the
Minister so that he can continue oppressing the Commission. The Commission has got nothing to claim or to take home with on this document.
They are just a word to be mentioned and they are not recognised even a little bit. If you look at Clause 6, it guarantees independence of the Commission, and what happens? Schedule 5(b) 6, the President can appoint, disappoint, suspend and fill vacancies of the Commission. They have no job whatsoever. This Commission should not even be mentioned. They are not there. Why do they not give them another name in the department of Ministry of Lands, not Commission? It is a mismatch.
Madam President, it is contradictory because in terms of independence, the Bill should ensure independence of the Commission. At least it would not have gone off point. Another point is that this whole document is about sprucing up the Minister’s powers. The Minister has got the power to fire the Commission, appoint
Commissioners and not even mentioning the Commission that we are talking about and yet, the document is called the Lands Commission which is supposed to be independent. There is no in dependence whatsoever. That is why I had asked for us to look at the Hansard first. I thought probably I was looking at the wrong staff, but it is the correct
On Clause 21, it is the Minister who makes the regulations and it is the Minister who fires, limits the size of the land and not only farming land, but Zimbabwean land. He can come to the village and start limiting the pieces of land that is owned by the villagers. What type of a Commission is this Madam President? On Clause 35, the Minister has got the power to vary the agricultural land...
HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: Madam President, point of order.
HON. SEN. MARAVA: Clause 57, Madam President, this
document talks a lot about legal issues and there is talk of all other employees of the Commission, office bearers of the Commission, but there is no talk of the lawyers or legally able people who know how to respond and yet there are crimes that are to be committed by people in this Chapter, which can cause them some jail terms. The Commission is not even advised of who to hire in order to look after the interest of the people who might make mistakes in implementing this thing.
So Madam President, my point number five is that there should be no discrimination in terms of land allocation. You find that Clause 26 discriminates...
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order, order.
HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: Earlier on I had stood up on a point
of order but the Hon. Senator was still whispering to you. I think it is like we have gone into Committee now, because he is going clause by clause.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: That is why I had
called a point of order. You are now discussing. You cannot do that. We are just debating in general.
HON. SEN. MARAVA: I hear you Madam President. I accept your guidance. That is why you are here. Thank you Madam President. I will not take three more minutes of your time, Madam President, but this is very important because there is serious talk in this Bill about discrimination. Our Constitution is 100% against discrimination, discrimination in any form, be it gender, and be it colour.
Discrimination is not encouraged in our Constitution, Madam President, what is happening in our Bill is that it discriminates against the poor whereby, the rich are being promised they can get as much land as they like as long as they can pay for it. They can do anything, as long as they can run the farm. These rich people who are being advantaged, Madam President, some of them have corruptly got their land, they have corruptly got their money and why should the Government continue looking after them because if you want to look at that, look at Clause 25,
Madam President. It is the one…
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: We are not
looking into Clauses.
HON. SEN. MARAVA: Alright, I will not quote it, Madam President. That is why I am insisting that we should be looked at equally. When somebody is talking about the truth, let us all echo that truth and we will all have Madam President’s ear, like we have had your ear. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHISUNGA: Thank you very much
Madam President for giving me the opportunity to respond to this Bill. I say thank you to the Minister for fulfilling what was requested by His
Excellency when opening this Session when he talked about the Land Commission Bill and as a result, we are going to pass this Bill because it is very positive.
I also thank Hon. Senator Mumvuri for the report which he gave which was very detailed. He touched on all aspects of the Bill. But I want to make a contribution on the people who were settled on the farms. We realise that these people do not have traditional leaders such as village heads or chiefs and yet when we visit those areas, we will find there have been some traditional leaders who have been installed. This shows that traditional chiefs should also be leading their people because they are the people who are looking after the people. When we have the traditional leaders leading their people, they will enforce the protection of the environment and even observing those sacred places and areas in any place.
We have noticed that if people do not have chiefs in their area, if they are told of the sacred day in the African tradition which is called Chisi, the people in the farms will always tell you that they have nothing to do with the sacred day because they are in farms. We know that as Zimbabweans, we rely very much upon our traditional leaders because the land belongs to them and there can be no progress if we exclude the chiefs.
I realise that in this Land Commission Bill, we do not have a representative of the chiefs because when people are resettled, they should be aware that they have strayed in chief so and so’s area yet you realise that during the colonial era, the colonialists used to observe the powers and jurisdiction of the chiefs and they gave them what was due to them. Contrary to that, the independent Government is now neglecting the chiefs, looking down upon the chiefs. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CARTER: Thank you Madam President. The Land Commission Bill is much needed at this time. In the interest of development, it is required to bring finality to the land reform. We had hoped that this Commission would bring public transparency, accountability and security of tenure. Alas, it does not do these things.
These three words; transparency, accountability and security of tenure if implemented, can turn a country around. They can change poverty into prosperity.
Sadly, the Land Commission, through the Minister, increases Government control of agricultural land. More control means less public accountability and transparency. The tenure systems are getting more complicated and as far as I can see, none is supported by the banks. We were advised in this House that the 99 year leases are bankable, but this has not been confirmed by any bank. There has been no public statement, so it is still shrouded in confusion.
Commercial agriculture needs to be underpinned by the banks which this Bill fails to acknowledge. The Minister has extraordinary power in this Bill. He may cancel any title deeds he chooses to and he may acquire land on behalf of the State. He may then lease, sell or in fact, do anything he likes with the land. He is only accountable to the President, but the accountability is not to the public. No owner or occupier of land may enter a share cropping agreement with another person or company without the approval of the Minister. The Minister’s consent is also required for all partnerships by holders of offer letters, leases or permits.
This is not a business friendly Bill. In fact, this Bill goes a step backwards from a modern free democratic state to feudal control. Government talks about the ease of doing business as being important for the country. They talk about it, but can you imagine every cropping agreement, every partnership proposal must be sent to the Minister for approval. The Government truly does not trust its own people.
This Bill is framed by the Land Reform, which is underpinned by the Constitution, which in Section 21(2) restricts the right of individuals who are not indigenous citizens to own, lease or occupy State land. For the record, as a white person, I must protest that this Clause is discriminatory. Can a white person not be indigenous? In our Constitution, citizens are separated from indigenous people on a racial basis which is unconstitutional and will eventually be challenged. This discrimination is based on the same principle as applied by the Smith
Government against black people. Do two wrongs make a right?
About a thousand ex-white farmers are sitting poverty stricken in the towns around Zimbabwe. They have not been paid for their farms and they are not allowed to farm because they are white. They are second class citizens in their own land, but the main victims of the land reform were the ex-farm workers. I do not see anything in the Land Commission Bill referring to them. The irony of the Land Reform is that it has actually displaced 1.4 million people, being about half a million farm workers and their families with just under 300 000 new
There were more people displaced than they were settled. Also, the ex-farm workers were displaced without provision of any alternative living options. Zimbabwe stands unaligned to the United Nations Charter in this regard.
This Commission does not correct the mistakes of the past and therefore, will not improve anything. It will be expensive and continue to strangle the citizens of Zimbabwe with ever increasing costs.
The reality is that politics continues to dominate economics. If our friends on the other side of this august House continue to allow this economic oppression of Zimbabweans to continue, we will become a failed state. Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Madam
President. I would like to add a few contributions to this Bill. I am very grateful for the introduction of this Bill. As far as I am concerned, this is an excellent Bill which should pass through.
Minister, I am very grateful for what you did because you have clarified the idea of compensation especially stating the things which are supposed to be compensated for; for example, the improvements done by commercial farmers. You have stated categorically what is going to be taken into account. The former white farm owners now know that what they are going to be compensated for is not the land but the improvements they made in those areas.
Speakers who spoke before me said that even before colonial times, the land was under the chiefs. Even when the land was designated by the colonial whites, they made false agreements with the chiefs, hence we have come to the end of this Bill. We are now talking about the enactment of the Land Commission Bill which is aimed at creating progress and development of Zimbabwe.
Even if the Constitution is silent on the membership into the Land Commission, I believe that you are part of the national leadership. In this Bill, Hon. Minister, may we please put qualifications of people who are supposed to be included in this Bill? The people who are supposed to be included are chiefs. They should be part of this Land Commission. We will be very grateful even if one or two chiefs are included and the people of Zimbabwe will be very grateful.
Madam President, when we are talking about land distribution in Zimbabwe, our culture as Africans, we are aware of the fact that all the land in terms of the Constitution is under the President. We are also aware that the President may have the land under him as the President of the country but he comes from a chiefdom somewhere and has great respect of the chiefs. Since we will have been empowered through this Commission, the President is not going to dictate that members of the Land Commission should include chiefs. I am saying, Minister, you have been empowered and you know we have to retain and preserve our culture; hence we should also carry out our culture and uphold it in land distribution.
What pleases me is that you belong to the chieftainship of Zimbabwe because you are of the eland clan. You understand what I am talking about with respect to powers of the chiefs in land redistribution. It shows that we should be included in this programme. We are begging you to chiefs you in the Land Commission. Remember, we have a lot of people who need to be recognised, the women, youths and other sectors. Land was annexed from the chiefs but now that we are an independent Zimbabwe, we need to empower our chiefs. We should give them what is due to them according to our culture and tradition.
I remember making a contribution during the Constitution making process. I said it was good for the present generation but the next generation, when we are all gone; youths will be asking as to who will be farming at that particular place we were given despite the grey hair and the fact that that person is old. They will be asking where that person is coming from. You are somebody who is farming in Mberengwa but you come from Chivhu. People will be asking what happened. At this moment, chiefs will have to be brought into the picture so that they will know who will be selected to come into that area because they know the people who have shortage of land.
At the moment, we have many political fights on the land issue. Some people are saying, they have come there because they come from the people of Charumbira and yet when they go to the Musarurwa area, they do not recognise that because they simply say, I have moved into this new place and I have nothing to do with that chief.
In the past, when people relocated or migrated from one chiefdom to the other, the chief where they came from would give them some word of recommendation that, please accept these people coming from my area. The chief would also talk about their cultures and other things.
I am saying, since we are now the Senate, the Minister should also be serious about this issue and we will have peace in the country. We will also realise that when there are no rains in the country, there will be drought. We go back to the chiefs and show them that they are an essential part of our culture hence we have these heavy rains because we went and asked our chiefs to perform cultural rituals. Therefore, it shows that we recognise the importance of our chiefs in our culture. The Lord Almighty is also aware of the presence of these chiefs because they come from him.
Chiefs sometimes no longer have land. I am not blaming the Minister or anyone else but I am saying, the problem is with the laws of the country. We have a chief who is going to beg for assistance in his area and that Chief may also beg to be given land in an area which used to fall under his jurisdiction. Powers have been vested in the Provincial Administrators or the District Administrators.
We need to be open; we need to tell the truth about the land issue in the country. We noticed that at times in Chief Musarurwa’s area, the chief was not allocated land but maybe one of his offspring was allocated land. What I am emphasizing is, it is not the chief who benefited hence our call that in the Land Distribution Commission, the chiefs should be included. During that process, they will also call for the inclusion of chiefs in the land distribution. I thank the Minister for the sterling effort made in the process of the land distribution and we are about to conclude that. We know when this country was taken by the colonialists; they were demarcating land riding on horses. When the horse was tired they would turn but we are saying all that is going to be rectified.
Madam President, what the Constitution says and the current issues are calling for alignment of the Constitution with the prevailing situation. We say the chiefs should be given those powers which should be equal powers both in the land distribution and Constitution so that when they are operating, there will not be conflict of interest. We know that these two institutions have different powers. We have read the
Constitution and we have noted that there is some duplication of services between the Ministry and the Land Commission. We should align these laws to the prevailing situation and avoid duplication of service.
Biblically talking, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar so that we do not have any struggles for this finer resource. We are Zimbabweans clamouring for the progress and development of our country. Hence, I am begging this august House to give powers to the chiefs because they deserve that. I believe that if we follow our cultural way, we know Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy and it shows we are very important.
I was invited at a certain farm where people were failing to carry out their own farming projects because the tractor would get stuck in the mud. Whatever form of mechanism they tried to use, there would definitely be no progress because they were fighting against the culture and tradition of the people. When they invited me, I said okay, I understand you have a problem but please go to the District
Administrator but they had nowhere to go. I then ate a humble pie and went to Ngezi farm and performed the rituals. The farm is owned by Mr.
Mazaiwana. We corrected the conflict through performing our rituals. Since we performed those rituals, the farmer has been able to carry on with his business in peace and progressively. Therefore, the land issue is an important one. If we rectify this anomaly today, we will not have problems with the future generation. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. MAKWARIMBA: Thank you Madam President for
giving me the opportunity to make a contribution on this Land Commission Bill. I understood what was said by the previous speakers and what has been done by the Committee which had public hearings in various parts of the country. I only have one problem which I think should be corrected.
The Land Commission has been highly centralised. In this Commission, the chiefs and rural authorities are not included. What worries me is, who is going to talk about the interests of the people in a particular area if we do not have the chiefs or the administrators of that area. I am begging the Minister to go back to the drawing board, remove all these anomalies, take corrective measures and be proactive because when these people go to these areas, they should know that they need the assistance and opinion of the chiefs and local authorities.
We know through our history that when we had these farms, these were areas which were previously under the traditional leaders. We are saying they need to be given their powers. Even local authorities that have been empowered to run those areas are also surprised to see people migrating from other areas without their knowledge or consultation. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIDUKU: Thank you Madam President
for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution. If we look in this august House, we are all citizens of Zimbabwe. We come from Africa and we are aware of our traditions and culture as the African people of Zimbabwe. Contrary to that, we have some people who get surprised and mesmerized that when we are talking about land, we should include the chiefs because when one is asked where they come from, they will tell you I come from Chief Charumbira’s area and my village head is Headman Sipambi.
What we are saying, if I may make this parable. Your cow is stolen from your village and somebody recovers that beast. They tell you we have recovered your beast but before it can be handed over to you, that beast is cut into pieces and people start sharing the carcass in your presence and you are not given anything. How do you feel when such a cruel aspect has been done to you? It is so painful and also painful to the chiefs who were the original owners of these areas. Even when we were making consultations with the people, they were telling us that the land belonged to the chiefs.
As a chief, sometimes you have to eat a humble pie and beg for allocation of land. At times you are given some pathetic piece of land. What is surprising is that there is somebody who does not even come from your area who is given a very large piece of land. When you ask for some pieces of land to be distributed to people from your area, you are told they cannot be given that land because it will have been allocated to somebody who comes far from that area yet the citizens of that area have no access to the land. I think that is wrong.
I have also heard my fellow Members of Parliament calling for one chief only into this Land Commission. My suggestion is that we need at least 50% to be chiefs and others ordinary people because if you do not do that the chiefs’ opinions are going to be overpowered by the people. The chiefs represent people from all over Zimbabwe. When the chiefs hear that the land has been resuscitated and redistributed but still the chiefs are not included; it will be like a parable whereby your beast has been stolen from you and when it is recovered you are only told that your beast has been recovered but people slaughtered it and distributed the carcass amongst themselves without giving you anything.
When people look at the chiefs, they are more than the human stature which we are looking at. They have spiritual powers endowed to them by the Almighty. As chiefs, we are not interested in political power but all we want is to play the oversight role especially when we are talking of land redistribution. I thank you.
HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam President of the
Senate. First and foremost, I want to register with the Minister that we have waited many years for this Bill and as we waited, I thought that the Executive was putting icing on a product that will come out - yotapira to everybody else, this is what I thought. Unfortunately, it does not tapira to that extend. Second point is, when my colleague stood up here to request that we wait until we see the Hansard, there was a gap in the presentation of the Bill and the Minister must request the Senators that in future the Second Reading is made appetising and understood by Senators for us to contribute more meaningfully.
Luckily, for us the presentation by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri did fill in that gap and I personally feel ameliorated in terms of the grief that I had in terms of the presentation that we had had. Let us start off by saying that the work of the Commission will be made easier and much productive if we address things like corruption in the ministry; the disappearance of files and so on. Your Commission will be able to function slightly to expectation. The next thing I will touch on and I paraphrase all my comments is depoliticisation of land. We had expected that in terms of the official statement, the land issue would have been concluded before 2010, I think if I am not mistaken. It has gone on and it appears that land continues to be politicised. Let us take off the economic factors out of politics; I know you cannot take them off completely. Let us de-politicise our economic development which land is and make it a factor of productivity, development and increasing our GDP.
The fourth thing I want to register is the issue on traditional leaders. I know very well, maybe more so in this part of the region that when we fought for this land, when the fighters came to the area they consulted the traditional systems svikiro, Chiefs and so on – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – It is critical for us to avoid probably a further fight over this land to remember those people who initiated the deliverance of this land.
The next thing I want to talk about is the land tax. Minister, I am a bit perplexed, I thought when you bought your house you are not like somebody who rents. You pay your premium in purchasing and you are done then you pay your rates. I do not understand why the land tax is extended to everybody, including those who have bought their farms because we thought it was chapter closed. If it is deemed by Government that it is necessary for those people to pay a land tax, I think it should be less severe or it should be so structured that it is not at the same rate as people who are renting land. Mistakenly, I understand that we are trying to build resources in order to be able to compensate some of the people who lost their development factor when land was occupied. If that is correct, I am saying those who have bought land have actually contributed to that fund and if they are required to contribute further, they should be actually be contributing at a lesser structure.
Last week, I raised the issue of prioritising local people in the land allocation and it is my hope that the new Commission will carry forward that idea. What we do not want is to appoint a Land Commission and think that we are concluding a chapter in the issue our land. Meanwhile, the chapter is unconcluded; you know the repercussions of lack of closure. We would like some of these things to be brought to closure.
Somebody did talk about capping the size of farms. I think it is a noble idea and I am aware that we have taken as a country many trips including one to Brazil many years ago. When we came back I read in the papers that there had been a lot of extensive research or findings into land sizes. I think certainly certain farms are beyond expectation in terms of size and it is important to make sure that on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission, under whose purview, I think that would come in when that issue is addressed.
I also want to agree with the people who are saying the chiefs have been left out of the Commission. I will not dwell on that much but I actually propose that when we get to Committee Stage, I am not too sure of the correct procedure but we have an amendment. It is not good to talk here and say the future generations will understand that chiefs were part of the system. We want the chiefs to be made here and now, part of the system. They are our chiefs, my chief sits here, I own a commercial land and he knows, I have known that before I do anything I go and consult the chief even if he is perceived in commercial areas as a nonactor. I have personally known that he is an inalienable actor in the land process. So, my suggestion is that let us include here and now the chiefs. Minister, I am sure that the status will be enhanced; it will not be lessened if you acquiesce to that request.
Last and maybe not least, we need to protect the independence of this Commission. It is one thing to legislate for the Commission and in terms of the Act, I would say semi-independence, I am not convinced reading through Act that the Commission is totally independent. It is one thing to legislate and it is another to be seen to be making the Commission independent, absolutely important. We have seen Commissions appearing to be tossed around and we think that it compromises the intention, personality of the Commissioners and it comprises Government because they set this thing and tell us it is independent and operationally we see a semi autonomous body. We kindly request and I am sure that Minister it is within your purview to ensure that you Commission when it becomes functional - is very independent. Madam President with those remarks I thank you. – [HON.
SENATORS. Hear, hear.]-
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I thank you Madam President. I would
want to thank all the Speakers before me and the Minister who has brought in this Bill. In my contributions I want to add the role of the chiefs. I was crafting the definition of the chiefs that who is a chief and the criteria? I have seen that on the chiefs there is the power of God. I have seen that if you want to be called a chief you should have subjects under you. For one to be called a chief you should have the land and also a lot of subjects under him, as well as the support of the ancestors.
We want to teach each other on the role of the chiefs because one of the elements of being a chief is land, without land there is no chief. So, my plea to you Minister, is that and also what the others have said I think you should take it seriously that you should include chiefs in your Commission freely. What I am seeing is that the Executive - it looks like they do not trust these chiefs or there is something they want to protect which we do not know. Also, Minister, if you look at this Land Commission people were thinking that the Commission should be independent without being controlled by the Executive. But, the Bill as it is it shows that there is a lot of controlling and micro management of the Commission.
What is causing that? We took our land back, the land is now referred to as the state land and no one can play around with the land of Zimbabwe. So, what is it that you want to protect I think the Minister should tell us because we thought the people who were going to be Commissioners are the people of Zimbabwe, men and women of Zimbabwe - people who have integrity and who know about the land. If we give them the powers to look into our land what do we lose?
When we travelled people were saying that they wanted to own the land. All the people that have land they want some form of ownership that even if I die I will leave the land to the children. The land is enough for all of us in Zimbabwe. Even if you give people we all want farms in here because everyone will be happy that they have farms. We can till that land so you must look into those title deeds. It was a problem before we took the land but now it is our cake -we own it so, we should share the land. We should give people title deeds and we can go to banks and get some loans.
Our land is equivalent to diamonds, it is a mineral resource and is more than diamonds. Land like that in Chegutu, it is like a diamond and we should put value on that land. Even if you go on the stock market land can gain a lot of money. Lets us create investment around the land so that people will farm and a lot of wealth is created from there. We can even put value on cattle that is farmed there because the land is ours, it is no longer going back to the Whites and we agreed in our Constitution that the issue of land is irreversible.
There is no-one in Zimbabwe who is against the issue of land in Zimbabwe. Do not be fooled no-one is against the fact that land has come. Land is like a child who is born out of rape it is very bad but that nephew is my child I still love that child and when I think of the rape I will be angry but I do not hate the child. We want to give the Minister confidence that the land is now ours. The person who owns land in Zimbabwe owns it legally even if they are White or Indians, they get the land by following the processes provided in our laws of Zimbabwe, including the Executive and the judiciary you should loosen it a bit. There are other things in the Bill which are very good. I think you have included what the people were talking about that there should be transparency in this Bill. We want to thank you for that. Madam President, with those few words I want to thank you.
HON. SEN. NEBIRI: Thank you Madam President. I would also make my addition with this Bill which in this House and we talk about this Land Commission Bill it is very important and it has been introduced by the Minister whom I can say he is the one of the traditional leaders in this country. I will make my contribution regarding the composition or the membership of this Land Commission. I am saying whether they are 10 or 15 members I am calling for 50% memberships including that of chiefs. I am saying this is good but it is not enough but I am calling that the chairperson of this Land Commission should be a traditional leader or a Chief because if you do not do that you will be making a mistake.
I am saying 75% is rural and we have agreed that land is under the chiefs and therefore, it means the chief should have the power of heading this Commission. I am advising the Minister to have a look back, we have the provincial chiefs council, the district council and all the areas and we will ask the Minister whether the Minister has ever has the chance of getting through those boards and we will smell that the Minister did not have the chance of interacting with the chiefs because we would have given him the advice and also our input and advice on how they could go about the programme on the Land Distribution. Each province would be giving its input but unfortunately; the Minister did not make enough contacts - let me now turn to offer letters. This is a very good idea, but it is creating misunderstandings amongst the people because some people have had these offer letters which had been withdrawn. Some of these people whose offer letters had been withdrawn include people like Chief Kasekete. Some negative rumours have been spread about the chief and the offer letter was withdrawn.
I am advising you Minister that before you withdraw any offer letter from anybody, regardless of their social status, please make inquiries and investigations with the chiefs and they will give you enough evidence to make a judgement on whether to withdraw or retain that offer letter. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. MAWIRE: Thank you Madam President. I would
like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to the Minister for introducing this Land Bill. We know that the main reason is that the people of Zimbabwe went to the war of liberation in order to reclaim their land. What is pleasing about this Bill is we have shown that as Members of this august Senate, we are mature people because of the way we are contributing. I am grateful for what is done by our traditional leaders. When we look backwards, we had some people amongst us who were not aware of the status of the chiefs, even those who are in this august House. But now, we are speaking the same language. They now understand the importance of the chiefs.
I am so glad because we are now aware that the land in Zimbabwe solely belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. These are the people who were advising the youngsters and persuading them to go and fight for the liberation of this country. I am begging the Minister that whenever he is going to nominate the Land Commissioners, he should include the chiefs because when they are included in this Commission, they will be able to give ways and means of allocating this land because they know some sacred places or some places which are special.
If we look at times where we live where we do not have areas under the jurisdiction of the chiefs, but we have areas such as Marange and other towns. In those areas, they have people who are building on some sacred grounds whereby if somebody builds a house on that area, they are told that that house is haunted and they may not be able to stay in that House.
I am saying when we look at some of the Commissioners; they do not understand fully the task at hand. The Bill which we are talking about is important because some of the people who are included are not aware of their roles. They are proud of their education or they have been to all those overseas areas. We need people who can relate and associate with the history of Zimbabwe and what it means. We will keep on empowering you because we know that Zimbabwe was liberated through the armed struggle and we will work under the guidance of the Head of State. I thank you.
+HON. SEN. D. T. KHUMALO: Thank you Hon. President of
the Senate for giving me this opportunity to add my views on the Land
Commission Bill. I would like to say a few things concerning this issue. I have four things that I want to lay down. Firstly, it has been said that there are 18 women who have been given places to make sure that they have land. This land was fought for by everyone and women were there in the struggle as well. Therefore, women should be given land like others.
Another aspect that I would want to bring up is that when land is being distributed, we have already said that the local people should be considered first and it will be good if they are given and considered first so that the chief in that area will identify his people who do not have land. It should be avoided that people move from different areas to come and occupy land when the chief is not aware. What also happens is that in the near future, our chief will not be respected because the people who are brought to their villages will refuse to respect them and to be under their authority.
I remember that some time ago, my aunt got married in
Mberengwa from Plumtree, Chief Mpini’s area. I remember that the chief in Mberengwa was informed that there was a chief’s daughter who had come to his village. It so happened that in Plumtree and Mberengwa, both of them knew that the marriage had taken place and there was a relationship. People should not come without the chief’s knowledge. The Hon. Minister responsible for the Land Commission should take note of that. People should not just move to new areas and they should make sure that they are udder the authority of the chief in that area.
We want our children and our grand children to respect our origin and to respect our chiefs and for them to know that chiefs are important. When we work with people who are from different areas, I have worked under evaluation. I know that instead of people coming properly; they just come without the chief’s knowledge. They do not know that they should come properly and be welcomed. When they are brought in properly, they will be introduced to the chief and they will be told of the values that the people should follow.
With those few words, I would like to ask our chiefs not to just watch what is happening. People should not fight for land and local people should be considered first in the distribution of land. Hon. Minister, we plead with you that such things should not happen so that we live together in love because what makes us fight are Ministers who just put us in places where we do not belong. That is where I would like to end. May the land be distributed fairly and may people respect our origins and our chiefs because we know what to do and we know the values to follow. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution regarding the inclusion of the chiefs by this august House. We realise that Minister, most of the Speakers in this House have talked about the inclusion of Ministers in the Land Commission.
My second point is that, let us not hasten the passing of this Bill and let it not be called a fast tracked Bill. We need to be careful with the way we look at it because the Bill is about the war of liberation, when the people of Zimbabwe went to war so that they could liberate their land which had been taken over by the colonialist.
As stated by Hon. Carter, this Bill should be looked at as a Bill which is going to remove all the anomalies in the land distribution process because if we do not do that, the future generation will be laying blame on us. When we are talking of an independent Commission, we are definitely calling for an independent body which should not be influenced even by the Minister because when we talk about the independence of the Commission and yet talk about the powers of the Ministers, that is you suppressing the powers, so the Commission has no role to play. When we talk about this land distribution, we need to attract the attention of the people and also possess the programme because if we do not correct that, people will never have that confidence in owning that piece of legislature. Therefore, what we need to do is not to simply pass this Bill, but we need to be careful about the suggestions made by this House.
The chiefs who are in this august House also have Chief’s Councils in the provinces that elected them. Therefore, these chiefs need to go and consult with their constituents and therefore, if you are given that chance, come back and we will be very much happy. Minister, I am begging you, please do not fast track this Bill. I beg you, do not fast track this Bill.
+HON. SEN. A. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. President. The previous speakers have already said what I wanted to say. What I can say right now to you, Hon. Minister is, it has been mentioned before that women are important. It is vital that they also get land. What we also want Hon. Minister is that women also be registered in the farms which are given to their husbands so that even when the spouses pass on, the women can be able to be owners of those farms.
Again, they have spoken about the disabled. It has been said that the disabled, because of what they are, people would think that they are not able to own farms. Just as it is, women are also able to have farms. The men are the owners of the farms, but much of the work that is done on these farms is done by the women. Women do the planting and they do everything. What the men only do is cellphone farming and ask what goes on around the farm. Therefore, we hope that women will be put into consideration in the distribution of land.
Mr. President, it is said that many people who are rich are the ones who have, for example 19 or even 10 farms each. We hope that before we even pass this Bill, that issue should be addressed and properly considered. I believe that you know, Hon. Minister, how many people have more than one farm. We hope that this Bill will not be passed before this issue is looked into because there are some people who are greedy. They want to have it all. You find that there are people in farms in Beitbridge where they will be farming oranges and at the same time farming in many other places around Zimbabwe because they want to do so many different things since different provinces are conducive for different plants.
Hon. Minister, we do hope that each and everyone will at least get a farm where they come from. It is very painful, Hon. Minister, to find out that someone from Tsholothso has a farm in Hurungwe. One would question how they moved from Tsholotsho to Hurungwe. Are there no people in Hurungwe? Do they not have children? We do hope that such issues, through you Mr. President that this issue will be looked into. We do not want such things to be happening. However, we are speaking about it because they do exist. What has caused this to happen is that our chiefs are looked down upon. It is very rare for a chief in Hurungwe to consider giving land to somebody from Tsholotsho as it is impossible for them to know them. It is important for our chiefs to know their own people to avoid such issues. That is why we have realised that people no longer respect the chiefs because people from their areas do not know their chiefs and they do not even know their own values. Some of these chiefs do not even know of our own values. We would like to thank the chiefs who take note of our values
Of late, there is a story that happened of chiefs who stood up against a person who had been given a farm in an area where they do not belong. They stood up and said that they also have people who deserved that farm. Hon. Minister, I was so happy because they succeeded. It may happen that as you live with others in a village, you have your neighbours. It is possible that if you just get to a place and get a farm, people will steal your things and they will sell them because you would have just come to live in their area by force, without following the proper procedures.
Hon. Minister, may we take our time on this Bill because this Bill is everything in Zimbabwe to Zimbabweans. People fought, people died, people did different things because of the land issue. People want land. There is no one who is jealous about land. There is nothing like people who do not understand the aspect of land. There is no one who does not understand this issue because people fought for land from Plumtree to Mutare and from Zambezi to Limpopo. Everyone wanted land. It cannot change today. Chiefs, you have been given back your power. Please get back as fast as you can the powers that have been given to you. Do not take too long because at times you are the ones who take things back. Please take the power that you have been granted and use it. Do not agree to follow up on people. People should follow you. Even though you might not be the Chairman, we do have our caucuses. The chiefs should be heard through these. We do plead with our chiefs because we have children in different areas. We do hope that you will properly look into this issue. Let us not rush into this. Let us take our time as we say in Zimbabwe; there is no hurry in Africa. Let us take our time to do this in a proper manner so that we are a country that follows its own values because a country that copies others is not a proper one. We want to respect our culture so that in the future when we are using this Bill, we will not point fingers at each other.
Hon. Minister, you are responsible for this at the time being. Can it be history that you worked on this, things started working out well and neighbours lived together peacefully during land distribution.
The other issue is that people want to have title deeds. May it be so? May people have their title deeds so that they can feel that they are the real owners of the land? The people who still hold on to title deeds in their offices, may we talk about this. We know that there are some white people who are still holding on to these title deeds. We do hope that you will look into this issue to make sure that these title deeds are given to the rightful owners of the land so that they are able to use the land as collateral to get loans and to do development on their farms. Most of those white people managed to succeed in their farming because it was the black people who worked for them. We do hope that it will be the same with black people that they will succeed in this venture Hon.
Please look into all these issues Hon. Minister. Please assist us on this issue and on this Bill that you brought here today. I thank you Mr.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUBANE: Thank you Mr. President
for offering me this opportunity to debate the report presented by Hon.
I would want to commend Parliament for recognising the importance of Senatorial Committees in participating in these Public
Hearings on important matters such as the Land Bill –[HON.
SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –I applaud Parliament for that.
Mr. President, land gives us an identity. People of my area say, we come from Chief Ngungubane. This is because of the land. They are proud of that. It gives them an identity. That is our culture. Land is embedded in our culture. You cannot separate culture from our land. I wanted to stress that Hon. Minister.
Of late, there have been greater calls coming from this House. If there are matters of domestic abuse, issues of domestic violence, child marriages and so on, it is traditional leaders. I implore this House that we should not recommend but let us use the legislative mandate that we were given by the people of Zimbabwe to correct some of the calls that are coming out there from the grassroots. It is important. We will be held accountable by our people if we fail, only recommend, sit down and it ends there. What am I saying? Hon. Sen. Mumvuri’s report recommended among other things, that traditional leaders must be at the forefront of promoting women’s rights with regards to land, but how can you promote women’s rights when you do not even sit in that Commission Hon. Minister? Let us be practical and realistic.
I have talked about land as something that gives us an identity and as part of our culture. Mr. President, if you read Section 282 of our Constitution, it says traditional leaders must, it is a command. It does not say shall. It has the discretion of someone else but the Constitution says the traditional leaders must take measures to preserve the culture, traditions, history and heritage. I will stop there though the sentence does not end there.
If you read Section 289 of the same Constitution, it says land is a finite natural resource. You cannot stretch it. It comes to a point where it will tell you that I am saturated, I cannot take anymore. Land is an infinite natural resource that forms part of Zimbabwe’s heritage. If you look at Section 282, it says, traditional leaders must among other things, preserve our heritage. So, Minister, if you are saying people chosen for their integrity in the Commission and leave out traditional leaders; we would have failed as a nation.
One Chapter of the Constitution says that traditional leaders must take responsibilities with part of our heritage. Section 289 acknowledges that point. I think Hon. President; the issue of traditional leaders sitting in the Commission is not an issue that we should be debating about. Chiefs must take control of their heritage and part of the heritage is the land. Hon. President, I am not debating the contents of the Bill but relating to what Hon. Sen. Mumvuri has said.
Section 29 talks of resettlement and placement of chiefs under resettlement land. I thought that chiefs taking part in this Commission will fulfill this provision because there is replacement of resettlement land under the authority of chiefs. It is very important that traditional leaders are among the Commissioners. I do support and agree with the calls coming from this House that traditional leaders must constitute part of this Commission.
Lastly, Mr. President, the report recommended that there should be clarity on the land tax, but I want to come in from a different angle and say that there is confusion on State land. You pay tax and it goes to the Ministry of Resettlement or Ministry of Local Government. I stand to be corrected on that but we have other aspects; Ministry of Rural Development. Councils are crying that these resettlement lands form part of their area of jurisdiction like the chiefs; they are folding their hands, nothing is happening.
With regards to the contents of the Bill, I will leave it to the Committee Stage for debate but I had wanted to respond to the report brought by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri and thank him for the detailed report; more importantly the issues that the people highlighted about traditional leaders. We are here to represent the wishes of the people. We should take cognisance of that. With those few words, I want to thank you.
*HON. SEN. MAKORE: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to make my contribution. I was also part of this Committee which carried out these Public Hearings. I would like to start by thanking the Minister for introducing this Bill to this august House. Hon. Mumvuri said a lot about the land problems in the country since time immemorial but this Commission has the mandate of rectifying all the anomalies which led to the war of liberation according to Section 141 of the Constitution which says we should get views from the public.
Minister, my feeling is that the way this Commission was introduced is that it is an essential component of the lifestyles of the people of Zimbabwe. We realise that some of the people who have been allocated land have been reselling that land yet they were given for free. This is going to be unearthed by your Commission. You also heard some of the Members of the august House making some contributions calling for the audit on multiple ownership of land. Somebody has land in Matebeleland South, a farm in Mashonaland Central and that same person has another farm in Manicaland and Mutare, hence this has to be unearthed by the land audit.
People managed to manipulate the system because land was being distributed by different organisations, either through the Minister and the Land Committees in those areas but those people were allocating land to many people at the same time and even making double allocations. Somebody will have started doing some improvements on a piece of land, all of a sudden that land is allocated to somebody and they lose out. When you look at the land allocated to these people, some of them are not able to farm this land. Farming is a venture that is capital intensive but some of the people who were given land have no money to do the farming. The previous speaker said when people are given land; there should be land which they can afford to run. There should be productivity on that area.
In some areas, especially our country, it is a shame that Zimbabwe has to import food. We used an amount of about $253 million to import food, yet the underlying factor of allocating land to the people is to utilise land fully. Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy; therefore we need to determine the maximum size of farms to be given to people. You give a person about 2 000 hectares of farm land yet they cannot do the farming. Some people were allocated land and it is now time for farming, that person starts asking to be given free seed, fertiliser and whatsoever. Even if you advance these people some cash for farming, they would rather go and buy luxuries, new cars, and even go to the extent of doing bad things.
The other issue which was looked at is the issue of land taxation. We cannot fix it at a flat rate of $5 per hectare. We have regions 1 to 5 and these people live in different ecological areas. We need to look at the taxation method of people in regions 1 and 5.
During the Constitution making process, we said the chiefs should be the custodians of the land. I realised that most of my colleagues supported the idea that chiefs be included in the land redistribution process. People should not come from anywhere and get any area which they want without involving the chiefs. We know that even during the war of liberation, freedom fighters did not operate in a chief’s area without informing the chieftainship of that area. They would even respect the spirit mediums of that particular area. We should be aware of the fact that farming is a business and worthwhile venture especially if you get into it with all your heart and support it effectively. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL
RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA): Firstly, let me say
I am very impressed with the level of debate taking place and I feel that we should have more time to allow more contributions. With the leave of the House, I now move that debate be now adjourned.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 14th February, 2017.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA), the Senate
adjourned at Eleven Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.