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SENATE HANSARD 21 FEBRUARY 2017 26-31
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 21st February, 2017
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
DEATH OF HON. SEN. VICTOR MAPUNGWANA
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: It is with profound
sorrow that I have to inform the Senate of the death of Hon. Sen. Victor
Mapungwana, Senator for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province on Friday, the 17th of February, 201&. Therefore, I invite Hon. Senators to rise and observe a minute of silence in respect of the late Hon. Senator.
All Hon. Senators observed a minute of silence.
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. MASHAVAKURE: Thank you Madam President. I want
to add a few words on this Bill which was brought in by the Hon. Minister. I heard a lot of Hon. Senators saying that we should assess people who are being resettled, where they come from but I think we all remember that this land issue is there to bring balance to things which were not in good place from 1890 to 1980 when we were colonised. It looks like we are forgetting what happened, that there where chiefs who were removed from their places where they were staying. For example, if you go to Mwenezi, you will find the chief there called Masentesi and there is a sub-chief in Mberengwa called Makuwerere, you will find Chief Ngungubane in Mberengwa as well, they were displaced from their places of origin. Other people say they are coming from Gwanda or DBS Farm but all those areas are not in their provinces. When these children are told that we used to stay in DBS or Gwanda, people there will refer to them as foreigners. They we made foreigners due to colonialism. What I am saying is that, we should be under chiefs and they should remember people who are nearby. We should remember that this was done by the whites when they were removing people. I think we have lost some chieftainships, I heard there was one called Chief Nyabira who is no longer there but there area is now called Nyabira and people do not remember that. They only think of people who are within the vicinity but you should note that there were others who were close to where you are but they are no longer there and still have that history.
As mature people, I think we should not delve much on people in those vicinities. If we do that, I think we will be sowing seeds of xenophobia thinking that we are spearheading local interest. These local interests will end up developing seeds of enmity and that is the beginning of everything because everything, there is a starting point. As mature people, we should talk but also remember history. We should not sow seeds of disunity. I also want to agree that when a person is to be resettled, someone should introduce them to the chief so that they are inculcated on the culture of that area and they all live in harmony. With these few words, I thank you Madam President.
*HON. CHIEF CHITANGA: Thank you Madam President. I would like to add myviews on the Land Commission Bill that has been introduced by the Minister. It is quite an important Bill but I have a point or two to add onto
The aim of the Bill is to correct the existing imbalances in the resettlement of the people and these have to be rectified. We need to have a department that is responsible for investigating and correcting all the problems being faced by the people in these areas. My request is that, since the chiefs are the custodians of the land, they should be part of this Commission. I think the Minister overlooked the importance of chiefs as members of this Land Commission Bill yet we believe that as the custodians, we should have a bigger say in the way our land is distributed.
Chiefs are also peacemakers in their constituencies or chiefdoms. We believe chiefs are very important and should be included as members of this Land Commission Bill.
+HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI: Thank you Madam President for
giving me this opportunity to make my contribution on this noble Bill. We are very grateful for this step but as chiefs, we feel that people in the rural areas are not fully represented by this Land Commission Bill because people can only be represented by a chief in that Bill.
When people were resettled during the Land Reform Programme, they were not placed under the jurisdiction of chiefs but went as individuals. We believe they needed to be resettled in the jurisdiction of chiefs as chiefs are the custodians of the Land Commission and also the custodians of our culture.
We need to have at least two chiefs so that when there is a problem, the Land Commission will refer them for assistance to the chiefs. It seems people are not aware of how people in the resettlement areas live.
We have cases of cattle straying into other peoples’ fields and they also dwindle around the Witchcraft Protection Act calling each other witches and wizards. We know that all those people came from chiefs and should be placed under the jurisdiction of chiefs. We believe if you include us as members of this Commission or as assessors, we will feel incorporated, emancipated and empowered. I thank you.
+HON. SEN. MASUKU: Thank you Madam President for giving me
this opportunity to make my contribution on this Bill. This is quite a noble Bill because it is talking about the Land Reform Programme. We know that the Commission that has been established is going to be of great assistance and also be able to settle quarrels amongst the people who have been resettled especially when they quarrel for agricultural or pasture land.
I realise that traditional leaders are very important as they play an important role in the resettlement of people. We believe the Government is aware of this importance. We acknowledge that whenever there was a land resettlement programme being implemented, the chiefs were invited or consulted especially in the District Land Committees. Chiefs were included as members of this committee as this is the body that is responsible and has a voice in land redistribution. We then go to the districts, provinces and this is implemented after consultation with the traditional chiefs because the provincial Chief’s Council nominates chiefs who will be in the Land Committee to play an oversight role in the resettlement areas.
Chiefs are part of the land redistribution committees because they have an input. Hon. Minister, please get me correctly, the traditional leadership is very important from district up to the province. We realise that when we go national, the traditional leaders have been put aside. Hon. Minister, since this Land Commission has already been established, I am calling for the crafting of a document that empowers these traditional chiefs. After this commission has completed this task, there is need for another commission that has to lead another programme. I plead with you for the next group to include traditional leaders because at the moment, we would not want to throw spanners into the works as there will be a drawback but we need to craft a way of including the traditional leaders. Therefore we are saying, let by-gones be by-gones but in future when we are establishing such a Commission; we should include our traditional leaders from the district up to national levels.
I believe, Hon. Minister, you are going to take up this request on the traditional leaders to be included in such important land reform programmes. My fervent wish is for this Commission to work in the resettlement areas as well they only operate in communal areas. We realise that the people in the resettlement areas come from the chiefdoms who recommended them into those programmes. Therefore, I wish for chiefs to be empowered so that they play an oversight role of traditional leadership in the resettlement areas because they are aware of the problems which are involved in the resettlement programmes. I believe this Commission is exactly what the doctor ordered for the resettlement and land redistribution. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Madam President for according me this opportunity to add my contribution and because of language barrier, I might repeat so forgive me. The Minister’s Bill is very good but what surprises me is that yes, land was taken and given to people - which is a good thing for us to have enough in our country instead of us starving. So, we are happy with this gesture but what amazed me was that when this land was given to people, most of the people who were in South Africa are here and some are now late. For example, I know of a place where the mother died but the child is holding on to the land but it is like he is renting the land. When commissioners come, they would not know the owner of the land.
What I want to say is that if chiefs and the headmen were involved in the distribution, they would have known the people who stay in those areas. When commissioners come to visit the areas and they see the cattle, they are just told that the animals that you see here belong to the owner of the farms but they do not know who the right owner is because the chiefs, headmen and chairmen are not involved in the Commission. Some of them are fugitives from other areas and people do not know why they left or ran away from their areas. It is only this child who has welcomed that person. They will think that the farm is functioning because they have seen the animals that are there. The Chief or headman does not know that some has come with his animals. My real issue is if the headman and the Chief are involved in what is happening, what the right is doing the left should know. That is my contribution. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: Thank you Madam President for giving me
this opportunity to add a few words on this Bill. Minister, I grew up in the rural areas. Chiefs are not elected like what happens with the constituencies. The issue of chiefs is that of inheritance and some people have died. What I want to say Minister is that if your Bill respects the chiefs, the predicament that we are in right now is because of chiefs that are not being respected.
Where I was born, there was a time when there was a shortage of water and in that area, chiefs would be called and asked to go to the mountains to perform rain making rituals. People would come down that mountain with the rains falling. There were also worms that used to destroy the crops but before they could get to the next village, people would consult the chiefs who in turn would go to the mountains and by sunset the worms would be no more. So, what I am saying this afternoon Madam President is that it is true that you have given powers to the District Administrators.
From 2000 when land was taken, some people do not even have offer letters. This looks like child play because the chiefs are not aware. You took the powers of the chiefs and bestowed them on the wrong people. I am pleading with you Minister that in your Bill, consider the Chiefs and give them their own Minister who stands for them but they do not have, and everything is being grabbed from them. I heard last week that one Minister went to a place where a tractor was travelling under water and requested that the District Administrator to be summoned. From the year 2000, we had Chiefs in this Parliament, chiefdom does not end.
So, in your Bill Minister, I am pleading that you put the Chiefs upfront because they are the owners of the land. Many people are not harvesting because some of the Chiefs are being bribed. You should remove the role of
District Administrators on land and restore it back to the chiefs. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. BUKA: Thank you Madam President. I am making my contribution in support of this Bill which was raised by the Minister because this is one of the most important aspects enshrined in the Constitution of the country that we want to put into implementation regarding land resettlement and land reform programmes. The implementation has to come to a conclusion in a progressive and welcome manner. Hon. Minister, may I also congratulate you on the aspects which you have adopted from the Constitution were we talk about the equality of gender.
You did state in the press that the Chairperson of this Land Commission
Bill is a lady. We also have a ratio four is to five (4:5) in favour of women.
This is very important because as far as we are concerned, especially in Zimbabwe when we talk about agriculture, we have more women actively participating. Also, when we talk about the problems regarding this farming land, women mostly suffer especially in cases whereby the husband is deceased. The land is grabbed from the widow.
I will add on the importance of the traditional leaders, this is very important and we have to uphold it. Hon. Minister, speaker after speaker has spoken on the importance of including traditional leaders in this Commission. I am pleading with you to revisit this programme and look for ways of rectifying all these anomalies, including the clauses which have been added by the august Senate. When we are talking of the land resettlement programme, we need to move together in unison as one family.
I also heard that some people are complaining on why the Land Commission was empowered to the Executive Commission. I support this wholeheartedly because land redistribution is a very important programme; it started from the time the land was grabbed by the imperialists and colonialists when they fought our forefathers. It is the same land which led to the second Chimurenga War where we had some sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who died and others where maimed and consequently we then need to have people who will take care of this land. We need to have technocrats who will work on this programme. When they have done it, we need to have some people who will bring a traditional angle on checking on the oversight on the technocrats and we know that this land reform programme led to the imposition of sanctions on our country.
We had our leaders put on the sanctions list by the West and we suffered a great loss. The approximate money lost through these sanctions is US$42b. What does this mean? It means that if only this money had been harnessed without these sanctions, Zimbabwe would be really be a land of milk and honey, and hence those people who started on this programme, especially the political leaders through the Minister should have some checking mechanisms that the land is not returned to the colonialists.
One other aspect which has really pleased me is that this Land Commission is going to undertake a land audit so that we check on the progress on the land redistribution programme. Whenever there are any problems they should be worked out so that we correct the problem faced by the settlers. The resettled people should be given enough powers so that they can use this land as a way of borrowing money from the banks as collateral. We also need to have leases because if you have a lease you have the power to possess that land and feel that you belong and feel entrant and embark on capital investments such as dams, bridges and houses. We need to support you Minister so that you quickly go back to the drawing board and start implementing the plans which had been suggested and empower the Land Commission to start doing its work.
We wish the Minister all the best and that progress is made. We are also talking about the Land Commission Bill at a time when we are noticing that people who have been resettled, if given financial support there will be progress. We have witnessed improvement in the usage of land due to command agriculture assistance to farming. There is progress because in Zimbabwe it is green everywhere.
We have heard that some people who had turned down taking up these land offers are now regretting and wishing they had taken up land because of the support given through the support programme and the command agriculture programme. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIPANGA: Thank you Madam President. I would like to make my contribution in support of this Bill which was introduced by the Minister in this House. We need to understand the position where we are on this issue, the Land Commission Bill. I have listened to the previous speakers such as Hon. Sen. Masuku when she was making her contribution. She made it in Ndebele, maybe some of us have missed what she said. The stance which we should take is not to be saying that why were the traditional leaders left out during the Land Resettlement Programme.
During the Land Resettlement Programme, I was a Member of
Parliament and I was part of the panel which was distributing that land. What we did is that we invited all the five Chiefs in my constituency to be part of this programme. I think where we are missing the point as what was said by one Senator that some of these places where we realise that land had been grabbed by the colonialists and relocated the Chiefs in those lands where they had grabbed the land.
I can talk of Chief Jiri who originally came from Chivhu District and was thrown at the periphery and not only this Chief, but many other Chiefs who were deprived of their land and relocated in land which was not suitable for resettlement. Taking in to account where we are now, where people have been resettled we need to have the traditional leaders getting into those areas and demarcating land according to the chieftainships in those areas. I believe this should also include former commercial farms. I believe in the powers of the traditional leaders.
The bone of contention, however is that the Chiefs should be included in the Land Commission and I agree wholeheartedly that Chiefs should be included. But the point is that the Commission is in place, it was appointed by His Excellency, the President - therefore, I am pleading with the Chiefs to understand that since the Commission has already been commissioned and have already been given the parameters of their mode of operation such as looking at the disputes in these land resettlement and also the compensation of the previous commercial farm owners. I would suggest that when this current Commission’s term of operation expires and a new Commission appointed, this should include the traditional leaders. Let us not go back, but move forward because we have already gone some distance in implementing this land resettlement programme.
We are pleading with the Minister that he takes note that this august
Senate is calling for the inclusion of traditional leaders in the new Land Commission, or supposing through the act of God, a member of the Commission passes on, the replacement should be given to a traditional leader. We accept that it was an omission that these traditional leaders were left out. In future, traditional leaders should be included so that they have a say in the land resettlement programme.
*HON. SEN. BHOBHO: I want to start by thanking the Minister for timeously introducing this Bill in this august House because this is a very important Bill which talks about our land. I also want to thank you for everything that you said especially regarding the inclusion of the vulnerable groups such as women and orphans in this Commission. It means these people are now protected and there is going to be representation of the widows and orphans. In the past, when a husband passed on, the relatives would come and evict the family from the land. We therefore feel that what has been done is noble indeed. When the husband passes on now, the family will not be evicted from their resettled land. I thank Hon. Mashavakure for the contribution because we do not need to have segregation if people are to be resettled in their original areas. This is different from what is happening. Though they belong to different parts of the country, they are representing the constituencies where they now live. We all know that each and every one of us belongs to some chieftainship where they originated from.
I know that most of us are supporting this Bill but the only bone of contention is that traditional leaders were omitted. We know that the Commission has been empowered to go and investigate the problem of boundaries. When this Commission goes round the country, they will really be impressed by what they are going to see. This season, Government gave assistance to the farmers through the Presidential Input Scheme and the Command Agriculture Programme. Definitely, Zimbabwe is resorting to being the ‘bread basket of Southern Africa.’
In my area, when land redistribution was taking place, the chiefs were included but it is only now when this Commission was commissioned that traditional leaders were left out. We are not going back on this programme because there is development happening. We have progressed and we know that Zimbabwe has an agro-based economy. We believe that the inclusion of chiefs in this body will lead to further development because chiefs live among the people and they know the people’s problems and solutions to those problems. Therefore, we do not have to throw the spanner into the works and disturb the smooth progress of this Commission. I thank you for taking that into account.
HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: I also rise to commend the Minister for bringing this Land Commission Bill. It is coming at a time when we are consolidating the land, which was the bone of contention for the liberation struggle. The war of liberation was fought to unite the whole country and as such, people fought together with their traditional leaders. I do totally agree that it would have been prudent to include the chiefs even for their persuasive powers as commissioners. Let me also say, now that the Commission has been appointed, ndiani angave ari muCommission imomo angafunga kuti angaita basa iri asingafambe pamwechete nemachiefs? From the time we got our independence, our Government worked together with the chiefs. It is the same Government which is still there that is aware of the importance of chiefs. I think this issue was adequately debated in this House and I think what is left is to see how that can be rectified.
The Land Commission Bill is an executive commission because the land which we fought for was won by blood. The person who should oversee the land is that one who is accountable to the people. The land commissioners are appointed but the President of this country is elected and that means the commission will do everything that is required such as auditing the land, seeing to it that there is accountability to make sure that there is no double allocation and no under utilisation because land is business. If we have to grow our economy, we have to deal with land as a business and as such, there is nothing wrong with the Commission reporting to the Minister who reports directly to the person who was elected by the people of this country. When you are elected, you are accountable to the people and you need to do what the people want.
Now, that the Minister has come with this Bill, we need these commissioners to conduct periodic audits to ensure that there is no double allocation and make sure that the land is used. We need our land to be utilised because it is a business. Let us take our land as a business. So, those recommendations should be done through the Minister to the Government. There is also the issue of title deeds Minister. That is tenure which has been discussed in this House before and let me hasten to say that the land in this country was won by blood, hence it cannot be sold. The reason why we went for the outreach to hear what people had to say about this land was whether they wanted a 99-year lease or a title deed because we consider the people to be the most important asset. They fought for the liberation of this country so that we could regain our land. As such, the 99-year lease should be given to the farmers.
Let there be banking provisions which must address the issue of security and recovery. It is not true that investors will not invest in a piece of land because there is no title deed. If that was true, China would not be where it is today because in China, there is no title deed. All the agricultural land belongs to Government and people are given half of the 99-year lease. This 99-year lease is bankable and transferable so that if I am given a loan from the bank using the 99-year lease. If I do not pay, then the transferability of that 99-year lease should come in. We cannot give back land which we fought for because otherwise we go back to the war.
Ownership of land has nothing to do with security of the investor. The investor must get the security from the transferability of that lease. We cannot remove title deeds from the Government because Government has got all the sovereign loans. They hold sovereign loans and they can secure that for the investor.
Madam President, title deeds will mean transferring land from Government to the capitalist and we need to think seriously about this problem about land. As the economy develops, we all know a lot of people are rushing to the farms now because there is nothing happening in towns. Industry is dead. Otherwise, as the economy improves, a lot of people will move from the farms to higher productivity areas like industrialisation. What we need to do at this point, is to make sure that these land commissioners do ensure that accountability. Those who have got the land, are they using it, are they using it as a business tool. Madam President, we want a united country. We want people who are united. We fought for this land. It did not come on a silver platter, so let us not give up what we fought for. I thank you Madam President.
+HON. SEN. J. NDLOVU: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the Bill that was brought by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement in this august House. Minister, I would like to second your Bill. It is something that we have been waiting to hear especially, as the leaders who are representing the people of Zimbabwe.
First and foremost Minister, what I want to thank you for is, you made it very clear, especially to me who did not understand issues to do with land. Why I am saying so is because when we are talking about the issues to do with land, most people always say that we fought for this land. No one went to war for the sake of being a refugee, for example where they were staying in Mozambique and Zambia. Everyone left their homes so that they could go and fight for the sake of getting the land. No one went to the war for the sake of buying a house, but the major reason was to get land. Therefore, the land belongs to all Zimbabweans regardless of who you are. As long as you are a Zimbabwean, you have the right to acquire land.
While we are still dealing with the issue of resettlement areas, not looking into the issue of farms, Madam President, you realise that there are so many squabbles, especially on the issue of resettlement. Some of the members who spoke before me have highlighted that the chiefs need to participate on the issue of land distribution. Sometimes a chief just hears that so and so has acquired land in this place. Some will acquire a big space of land, some a small piece of land and some even sublet and you realise that at the end of the day, there is no peace.
Therefore, I am saying Minister; most people have indicated that the chiefs are supposed to participate in these issues. The chiefs know all the areas and how they are supposed to be allocated. Even the areas that are considered as sacred places, they know them.
Some of the people cause deforestation even on places that are considered as sacred land. For example, if I travel from Gwanda to Plumtree, as long as the chief has not said that this is a sacred place, I will not know until the chief shows me that you are not supposed to stay in this place because it is considered as a sacred land, but if someone just says to me come and stay in this place using the friendly relations that we have, at the end of the day, I will occupy even the sacred lands.
Hon. Masuku indicated that there is need for chiefs to get involved in the Land Commission because it has been realised that there is nothing that we can do without the involvement of the chiefs. They are the people who know our cultures. Everything that we are doing, we are doing respecting the chiefs who were there even when we were born. There are some who are still young, but there are others who are old in their chieftainships.
Minister, the second thing that I would like to highlight on is that in the areas where people are being given land, there is need to have boundaries because without boundaries, that is where we get so many disagreements, especially if people do not know their boundaries. We therefore urge the Minister to check with their officers to see if they are really working and we want to have peace. We fought during the war of liberation and so much blood was shed. We do not want to go through the same thing again. As long as there are people who have failed to acquire land, we will not have peace for we are all human beings and Zimbabweans and we deserve to get the land.
With these few words, I thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I do not know what the word ngamafitshane means.
*HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on the Land Commission Bill. We are very grateful for such a Bill. In order for you to be a good farmer on the land, you need to have all the necessary implements and the documents which may enable you to use as collateral when you look for financial resources from institutions. When we are working on the Agrarian Reform, you can only get that document if there are no squabbles. We also believe that since we now have this Land Commission Bill which has been set aside, it is going to look at the problems faced by farmers in co-existing, such as fighting over boundaries – Mavhunga and a neighbour fighting over the boundary. We also hope that the land audit will expose those people who have more land given to them than they are supposed to be given and that there are also some guidelines which are supposed to be followed.
Hon. Minister, we know the land was redistributed by the Land Committee, especially the District and Province Land Committees. In my constituency, we have the traditional leaders who are included in this Land Commission Bill because chiefs are responsible for the welfare of the people who continue multiplying, yet they should share the limited resources which they have. As such, these people have. As such, these people have to be resettled. This Commission has already been commissioned, but it should also start working on resolving all the boundary disputes which are in existence. We know there are some people who are in these resettlement areas who do not have offer letters but are just squatting on that land. All these problems should be solved by this Land Commission Bill. We know that the allocation is the responsibility of the Minister working hand in hand with the Committees and the Commission is there to play an oversight role on the resettlement areas. Therefore, I am pleading with my fellow members in this august House that the resettlement farmers be given the 99 year leases.
+HON. SEN. JUBA: Thank you Madam President. I have a request to the Minister, I do not know how the Government policy works. When you travel using Matabeleland North road, when you get to cross Dete, as old as l am, you realise that people are doing their farming in a very small piece of land. Honestly, if we allow them to plough in such a small piece of land, obviously they will not be able to feed their families. They have been doing so all the years that I have been there. My request to the Minister is, if maybe the chiefs do not come to that place, I will not say I know for I do not belong to the Land Commission.
If you go through that road, you take note that the people who are doing the farming there, yes they have the zeal to do the farming but there is not enough land to do so. Maybe this is the main reason why many people in that area are facing hunger. So, many a times, they sell those wild fruits to people who will be traveling in that area. Most of the times I question myself and ask why there seems to be so much hunger in that place. If only we could work together as a team as Zimbabweans, we can fight this hunger. My request to the Minister is, if only they can maybe do site visits to check what exactly is the problem or challenge in that area.
For an example, I will give an issue to do with the street kids that are so many in that area. My request is to try and find out the major cause. I thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity.
*HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution. I thank the Minister for giving us the opportunity to debate this Bill and I want to make my additions onto the Bill. My fellow Senators have said this Commission has not been made and commissioned by His Excellency. The most important thing regarding the resettlement areas is that there are a lot of problems. I come from Zvishavane, and there are some people who were resettled in areas such as De Beer. I believe that if chiefs or traditional leaders were in charge of that area, we would not have the kind of problems which we have. They have no transport.
Some of the problems are so much that if only chiefs had been included, some of these problems would not be there. I am also asking you Minister, to include chiefs in your Commission.
I am saying since the President is resident in Zimbabwe and has appointed this Commission, you can take this Bill to His Excellency and explain to him that we had an oversight of not including the traditional leaders and knowing the President as I do, he will never turn down such a noble suggestion.
My fellow Parliamentarians also talked about the war of liberation which was fought to reclaim our land from the colonialists. The war of liberation affected each and every one of us in one way or the other but when we talk about what we want to rectify, there has to be an anomaly. I think if we talk about correcting this problem and you talk about the war coming back or being revived, nobody wants the war. We know the effects of the war and we are Zimbabweans who have their leader. We can always go back to our father figure and tell him about the observations of this House. I am saying that chiefs be included in the Commission and there will be progress. I thank you. – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
*HON. SEN. MALULEKE: Thank you Madam President for giving
me this opportunity to thank the Minister for introducing this Bill which we have to debate and give enough time so that we can implement it. All the things I had planned to say were stated by Hon. Sen. Mavhunga and other Hon. Senators and therefore, I will not waste your time, I thank you.
* HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President,
for giving me the opportunity to make my contributions and I also thank the Minister for introducing this Bill. I am also grateful to fellow senators who made contributions on this debate. We are members for the Senate and we have an assignment given to us. We know we cannot have these people called to come to this august House, if it had been known that they would not bring any value to this law making process. It should be taken into account that we have a different perspective from the National Assembly on the way we view issues.
What is happening is that whenever a Bill has come from the National Assembly, we should give it our own angle so that we justify our existence. I know we have passed so many Bills in this august House and I have known of some cases whereby some Bills have been passed in one sitting. The reason being that there is no need for debating any further when we know that the Bill is okay and it is known that traditional leaders are the custodians of our culture and heritage. When we talk of heritage, we are talking of things on the land as nothing heritage does not come from the soil.
Let me divert a little bit, I recently visited Nyika area in Masvingo where there was a meeting being held by the Hon. Vice President
Mnangagwa. He stated that no part of Zimbabwe is not run by chiefs because all the land in Zimbabwe belongs to the chiefs. This confirms the fact that all land belongs to the chiefs but when we are redistributing land and leave chiefs out, why should we leave them out as the custodians of the land? This Bill has made chiefs foreigners in their land. I am saying this oversight should be corrected and chiefs be empowered. Whether we like it or not or say whatever, the ordinary mind of a Zimbabwean believes and correctly, that the land belongs to the chiefs – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] - Whether you write it down or not, every Zimbabwean except whites know that land belongs to the chiefs. If you were to ask Zimbabweans as to who owns Zimbabwe, the majority of them will tell you that land belongs to the chiefs and chiefs are the custodians of this cultural heritage. This is the reason why when people are denied land, especially in areas where chiefs do not distribute A1 or A2 land, they end up coming to the chiefs for assistance because it is embedded in their minds and culture that land belongs to the chiefs and they believe that chiefs have a role to play. Otherwise, we are a Senate that is not governed by people – that is the truth.
Madam President, we want to emphasise that when this Bill was introduced in all the areas where this was debated, there was oversight even in the processes as chiefs were not involved. This is the only time whereby as chiefs and traditional leaders we have been given the chance to correct it. Now that you have given the traditional leaders this chance, let them tell you what needs to be corrected…
The Hon. President of the Senate having realised that Hon. Chief
Charumbira was code switching.
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order, order, Hon.
chief may you make your contribution in one language please.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President,
since we are talking about culture, I will speak in Shona. We have the Constitution of the land, which states in Section 3 (2) (k), due respect for vested rights; and in full Section 3 (2) states, “The principles of good governance, which bind the State and all institutions and agencies of
Government at every level, include (k) due respect for vested rights.” Chiefs have vested rights in land, so respect their rights in land issues as they are the custodians of the land. To such an extent that if we were to ask the war veterans why they went to war, they will tell you that it is because land had been grabbed from the traditional leaders. Therefore, we do not have to sideline the chiefs from land issues.
During the liberation struggle, we were told about the son of the soil and that this land belongs to Chief Chiduku or Chief Ngungubane. Why should we forget that the chiefs have a role to play? We are saying the Commission membership should be chiefs as the custodians of the land. Section 2 talks about the powers of the chiefs. Section 22 states that, ‘Chiefs are the custodians of the communal lands...” and when land has been acquired, it should be placed under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders. It is also enshrined under Section 29 of the Traditional Leaders Act that, all farms should be placed under the authority of the chiefs. We all know that when the white colonialists came, they grabbed land from the traditional chiefs. This is going to embrace all the land in Zimbabwe and in future, all these areas will be under the jurisdiction of chiefs or traditional leaders.
Section 22 (1) (e) states that we settle disputes among people and their communities. We should heed the fact that chiefs are also responsible for resolving disputes amongst people and in communal areas. So, chiefs as traditional leaders have been left out in the cold in this Bill. I would like to remind all Hon. Senators that when this Bill was first brought to this House, Hon. Chief Chiduku raised the fact that chiefs had been left out but he was informed that this was exactly what was happening now but the matter would be rectified in future. We were informed that chiefs would be empowered during implementation stage but we now realise that we have been left out and you are saying, let us forget about including the chiefs until the future yet we are making reference to what was agreed upon.
If we look at the national report, where we were seeking opinion, people who looked at version one said, regarding land allocation, administration and custody should be left under the traditional leadership. Some of these things have been included in the Constitution. We know leadership comes from the Lord. Traditional leaders are being held responsible and blamed for the way women are denied access to land but it is not our fault. It is because we were disempowered. The powers to allocate land were given to other people. We are now saying, we talked about the DAs, yet we know that the DA did not come in the 1980s but they existed long before and they were called Native Commissioners. They came with Rhodes in the 1890s but that office was run by the whites. At independence, that is when we started introducing blacks into that. We do not know what the relevance of the whites in those areas was when they were running it. So, the colonialist government stated why they had set up the Native Commissioner. I will not dwell on that but might do that in future.
Minister, may I please inform you that we will be bringing amendments to this Land Commission Bill and we are giving you notice such as on point number six. I have made a research and we were told that some of the suggestions were unconstitutional and when we made our draft, some of the things were omitted. We went to legal institutions and made the necessary research. I have been looking through these papers and I am sure when we introduce these changes, we also included people who drafted the Constitution such as Crozier. We hope that when we introduce these amendments we are not going to have any legal problems because we will have a prima facie case and it was done in such a way that we have progress.
We have two requests; when appointing the Commssioners, please include the Chiefs and when you look at the assessors who will be settling disputes among settlers, we are saying that board should include the chiefs so that they can have a say in the settlement of problems. We are told that qualification to these bodies needs people who are qualified. We have Chiefs who are competent and knowledgeable. If you want them, they are there and we can bring them for inclusion in these bodies. Yes, we talked about integrity and knowledge in land administration and the Chiefs may be better informed than others.
You also talked about gender but as far as gender is concerned, it is okay. You said the Commissioners should reflect gender balance. The only thing which was missing out of this Bill was that it left out the traditional leaders. Let me conclude this issue by saying we should not change the current composition of those Commissions because as far as we know in the Land Board and Land Commission, Chiefs were included but are left out in this Land Commission. Therefore, we are saying please include the traditional leaders in the composition of the Land Commissioners. We need to make progress in this direction.
In conclusion, let us not forget what was said in the past. Hon. Senator
Mawire raised a motion here where we talked a lot about the powers of the Chiefs. You also said the Chiefs should be empowered. I am holding a document in regard to the powers of the traditional leaders which says,
“…including resettlement areas. This has led to poor management and disturbance of the environment, with illegal activities being the order of the day. Our morals have been …”. You all stood in support of that motion on the powers of traditional leaders. You seem to be turning around and working against what we agreed upon which is empowering the Chiefs. Therefore Hon. Minister, we are supporting this Bill. Of course, there are going to be some amendments which we are going to introduce. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT
(HON. DR. MOMBESHORA): I have looked and noticed that most of the debates which were held in this House were done in either Shona or Ndebele and therefore, I am going to make my response in Shona. I thank the Hon. Members in this Senate for the contributions which they made. It shows that you are very patriotic and are aware of what lands means to you. There are so many contributions which were made in this House and I may not be able to mention contribution made by individual members but I will make a summary on what was debated in this august House.
The first point which was raised which I may want to pick on is that when we talk about agricultural land and land redistribution, it is a very important issue in Zimbabwe. Some Hon. Members who made their contributions suggested that the Land Commission should be an independent commission but let me just give some direction. Independent Commissions are in Section 2(2) in our Constitution and Land Commission is not part of those Commissions. We have already gone through that part which we have done away with when we approved the Constitution. In order for us to reinstate that clause, we need to make a constitutional amendment. There were reasons why it was not made an independent commission.
Most of the members who made contributions talked on the importance of the Land Commission. Some of them even mentioned that sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe because of the Land Reform Programme - for it was a pain to the countries in the West simply because the Land Reform Programme meant that some of the white commercial farmers were removed and land reallocated to the blacks. It was really painful to them.
When we talk about Independent Commissions, we need to know what they are because when a commission is said to be independent we are not going to have any control over it because it will be independent. I am leading a Commission which is talking about this independence. As a Minister of
Lands, I have many stories of the whites from the West who are now saying they have interest in the Land Commission Bill and if it becomes independent they will sponsor it. This may retard progress which we have achieved.
I am pleading with this august House that please, let us not clamour for an independent commission because we may not be able to correct it in its operations land is important because Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy.
Everything that is called economy comes from the land and we also know that Zimbabwe was granted independence through a bloody war of liberation and at times if you make that mistake, we may find ourselves getting into another war. I will now turn to the current case regarding the motion which has been introduced which is the Land Commission. This was gazette according to the
Constitution of the country. When the Bill was passed, it also talked about the Land Commission. As far as the development of the Land Commission Bill is concerned, we are now saying the Land Commission is going to be given areas of operation, its powers and rights.
As long as we have agreed that it is not an independent Commission, we need to look at how membership into this Commission is done. We realise that most of the members who made a contribution are saying, traditional leaders should have been included in this Commission. I also belong to a chieftainship and my ancestors were removed from their land and resettled somewhere. In that area where we were staying, we had some Chiefs who were installed and yet in the commercial farms there were no Chiefs.
Since independence, the Zimbabwean Government has been working hand in hand with the traditional leaders; even when we talked about the fast track land reform, we realise that traditional leaders were included because we had people who were coming from the communal areas which were congested and they had to be decongested. Hence it was essential that we work together with the traditional leaders because they were aware of the overpopulation in their areas. Chiefs are also included in the District Land Committees. It shows that the Government of Zimbabwe acknowledge that the Chiefs are very important in the land distribution.
Let me be clear Section 297 of the Constitution. In that Section, we talk about Land Commission that they play an oversight role - just like we have the Portfolio Committees and Thematic Committees of Parliament of
Zimbabwe but they are not responsible for distributing land. When we are talking about the functions of the Committees, we summon people to appear before these Committees. The Land Commission is not empowered to do a lot of things, but it has to play an oversight role on the Ministry and check on the progress. When they feel there is a problem somewhere in the way the Ministry is operating, this Commission will then seek for assistance from legal minds who will give ideas on how to correct problems.
Supposing there is a task which has to be undertaken by the
Commission, they have to sublet that responsibility. Let me be clear here, the
Land Commission is not responsible for land redistribution. When the Land Commission has made a recommendation, it does not mean to say that it is going to be implemented there and then, but there is going to be a meeting to check on the recommendations. We should know that when we talk about land distribution, we fought a war of liberation, hence politics should be part and parcel of land distribution. We do not want any foreign interference in the land distribution. Therefore Hon. Members, please be aware of the fact that the land is a thorny issue, hence has to be handled with care. We do not have to be so independent that Government is left out.
I believe what has been said by the Chiefs is very important to us as Zimbabweans because before the advent of the colonialist, all the land was under the traditional leaders and they separated us the people of Zimbabwe changed our way of operation. Let me point again from the onset, it does not follow that these people who would have benefited from the land, are the people who are in that particular land. We have people who were resettled by the colonialists in Gokwe. We have people like Chief Jahana who were moved from their areas and were taken to Gokwe because when they were settled in those areas they passed through some chieftains. When I got to that place, we were told that we want to resettle Chief Janana in his ancestral land, why should he come back, let him stay in Gokwe. He was removed unsettled by the settlers and put him somewhere.
Colonialists removed Chiefs from their throne because they did not want to be under Chiefs and that is why we are saying in all the areas where we have resettled people in A1 or A2, we want to put those areas under traditional leaders. In areas like Zvimba, we have 3 Chiefs who have been installed who will then play an oversight role in the resettlement areas. We have problems
of people fighting over the resettlement areas and some of them are even saying we belong to the chieftainship and we need to go back to where we were. In those areas we have people from other areas who have been resettled.
What I know is that as traditional leaders, you are aware of the fact that your Government is always moving around and will never leave you behind. We noticed that in some resettlement areas under the Chiefs they are better administered than what is happening in A1 and A2 areas because Chiefs play that custodial role in trying to fight off the unnecessary hunting, veld fires and other ills against the land. Whatever it is you said during the debate, we are all moving together and we are agreeable. I realise that some of the Senators were repeating what had already been said and now that this has been repeated over and over it will stick in my mind. Whenever we have a point we should know about the rulings which are given. We also talked about the legal minds that they should check on what has been said and any suggestions and to move hand in hand with the alignment to the Constitution.
We have been told by the traditional leaders that they are going to introduce some amendments and again we will talk to the legal minds to check on whether these amendments are not going to be contrary or ultra vires to the Constitution, we want them to make bonafide contributions. Members also talked about the administration and some of the issues which were debated fall under the jurisdiction of the Minister. These are issues such as title deeds and 99-year leases, where we talk about the security of tenure and this does not fall under the Land Commission. I also want to thank you for the contributions which you have made because you are giving us direction and guidance on the running of the country. We have talked about tenure documents which are in existence. In 2006, we talked about the 99-year lease which was designed for the A2 farmers. The A2 farmers are regarded as businesses because they are profit making. When we looked at the new constitution, which we adopted in 2013, we agreed as a nation that we are not going to use title deeds in the land which we acquired for A2 and A1 resettlement but instead, we are using 99-year leases so that this can be used as collateral.
After 2013, we again scrutinised the 99-year lease and agreed that the document should be used as collateral just like somebody using title deeds.
We worked with the World Bank who worked together with the local institutions; hence the 99-year lease can now be used in financial institutions as collateral because the banks have agreed. I know that we have some financial institutions in this country which may not want to support the Government stance but ZB bank, CBZ and Agribank have agreed to accept the 99-year leases as collateral. So, farmers can go and borrow money from there. Some of the banks have not come out into the open on their stance regarding these 99-year leases but if this has been promulgated into a legal framework, then the banks will be obliged to comply.
Currently, we are appealing to those people who have 99-year leases which were given earlier, that we have since revised that document and given it new powers so that it can be used as collateral. Also included are issues that talk about inheritance laws where the vulnerable such as widows and orphans are evicted from their land. We know these things can continue to happen but when we are alerted, we will definitely revisit that and correct that problem. We are also all aware that Zimbabwe has inheritance laws that protect the vulnerable and these laws state that if there has been a couple and the husband passes on, the land remains the property of the widow.
We also have a document called A1 permit, which was introduced in
- This talks about the tenure of the A2 farmers and this has no time limit. If you have been given that, it has no limit such as the 99- year lease but it is there forever. It also mentions what will happen to the land when the other partner passes on. This document also talks about inheritance in a polygamous situation and gives detail on the inheritance. All the wives in a polygamous family now benefit from the land which they will have acquired together with the husband.
I would have thought that the women would be the happiest because of this aspect. They had a problem before because they could not get anything after the passing on of the husband but the new ruling is that women living in a polygamous family should all be registered so that when the husband passes on, they do not lose out like what was happening in the past.
Members made lots of contributions and I believe most of the issues were dealt with when we debated. I heard some Members debating the various sizes of agricultural land in resettlement areas. This is not up to the
Land Commission Bill but as a Ministry, we need to follow what we stated. We said the maximum land according to the region is situational. So, we need to check why a farmer has 1000 ha in such an area but we take into account the geographical features of that land regarding the mountains and the arable land. At times the farm might be very big yet the arable land will be very small so we leave it like that. But when the land is too big, we will subdivide it so that more people benefit. What is of paramount importance however is that we will look at the productive levels of this land audit which they will do on their own. When they are through with their audit, we will then analyse the results. We are not going to tell the land auditors what has to be done but they have to do it like the census where they need to know the number of people in a family, their age group and health conditions as well as how the family is living.
So, when we go for the land audit, we will look first and foremost at the people who took those farms, who are sub-letting the farms and who are successful farmers or poor farmers. This will help the Government to plan on how to assist these farmers who were resettled. So, I am very happy because most of the topics that we touched on talked about the Land Commission. These were issues such as fairness, accountability and transparency. The Commission should look at whether, on the oversight role, the Commission is fair or otherwise and thereafter they make recommendations. The Land Commission is also allowed to give other recommendations regarding the land administration. So, the Land Commission is empowered to give recommendations after making some observations. We are also asking you Hon. Members to support the Land Commission because the commission got a little allocation from Treasury and this can impede on its operations, resulting in them not performing to their best ability. So, we are pleading with you Hon. Members to continue supporting the Commission in order for it to work efficiently because they will need transport, computers, allowances and other things.
The Land Commission should not embark on desk research but should have an in-situ inspection and make the correct recommendations which will be given to the Ministry for auctioning. So, they need to be supported financially.
I know some of you talked about the Land Commission having to be decentralised and having offices throughout the country. What we are saying is, when we have empowered this Commission, it will operate according to the assignment given. The first assignment was working on the organogram and the number of people in that Commission because we needed to know the number of people involved in that. If the body is agreeable, the Public Service Commission is responsible for recruiting the Secretariat, but their main duty is land audit and land inspection and then the Secretariat will be selected by them and even the decentralisation will be up to the Commission.
The Ministry is not going to dictate on the process of decentralisation because if the Ministry does that, it will be micro- managing. It is there just to empower and support them. All the Ministry wants are reports which have to be used because they give guidance to the operations of the Ministry.
Again, when you look at the Bill, you have to be careful on Section 27 which states that when this Committee is in session, they may involve some people on a temporary basis, to include them in their Committees. These people recruited on an adhoc basis may include the chiefs because what is needed is their expertise. I know some of you seem to be disagreeing with what we are saying, but I am trying to emphasise the point that the
Commissioners will need to expand by recruiting members on an adhoc basis, especially in these sub-Committees, but the Commission will know the criteria laid out for the inclusion of these people.
Now, all the Commissioners are full time. There is no Commissioner who is part time and yet in some statutory Commissions, they have temporary Commissioners. In our case, these Land Commissioners are full time workers, which means they do not hold another job, but are full time members. So, if they were in another employment, they would leave that employment and stick to the Land Commission business as a full time member.
I am sure in my response, I have touched on a lot of issues and what we said is what is supposed to be stated. In some of the instances, you were talking about the roles of the Ministry, but I have stated that the Commission has an oversight role only and what we need is that the Land Commissioners should hold consultations with the different groupings in the country so that they give recommendations to the Ministry. These will be based on thorough investigations and research. When we go through the Bill clause by clause, we will then clear all the grey areas in this.
The most important thing which I found out in these debates is that the traditional leaders should be included as Commissioners or assessors and also Hon. Chief Charumbira has said he is going to bring some amendments for inclusion. I thank you Madam President.
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Chief Charumbira, I do not
know if you have anything further that you wish to add?
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: We have no additions. We
are only waiting for the amendments and we will make our contributions. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT
(HON. DR. MOMBESHORA): I now move that the Land Commission Bill
[H.B. 2A, 2016] be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, I need to clarify a few points. Just because the Bill has been read a second time does not mean that that is the end of it. Actually, we had to go through this particular stage because the Hon. Chief’s amendments can only come during the Committee stage time. In addition, those amendments have to be on the Order Paper. If it is going to be tomorrow, they have to be on the Order Paper tomorrow, otherwise maybe, they will be on the Order Paper on Thursday and then we do the Committee Stage and then we conclude.
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE
Second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the
State of the Nation Address.
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT
(HON. DR. MOMBESHORA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA), the Senate adjourned at
Twenty Seven Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.