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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 15 November 2016 VOL 43 NO 11

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 15th November, 2016

The National Assembly met at a Quarter- past Two o’clock p.m.

 PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNEMENT BY THE HON. DEDPUTY SPEAKER

VISITOR IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to recognise the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery of Hon. M. H. Malema, second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia.  You are most welcome Sir.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

FIRST READING

DEEDS REGISTRIES AMENDMENT BILL [H.B. 3, 2016]

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA): Presented the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [H.B. 3, 2016]

          Bill read the first time.

          Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

FIRST READING

JUDICIAL AMENDMENT BILL [H.B. 4, 2016]

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA): Presented the Judicial Amendment Bill [H. B. 4, 2016].

          Bill read the first time.

          Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

SECOND READING

LAND COMMISSION BILL [H.B. 3, 2016]

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA):  Thank you Madam Speaker.  The Land Commission Bill has been necessitated by the enactment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act Number 20:2013 and in particular Section 297:5 and 6 which provides that;

          (5)     The State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level, through legislative and other measures, must assist the Zimbabwe Land Commission in carrying out its functions and must protect its independence – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Minister.  I am appealing to Hon. Members; I know you whisper to each other but would you please lower down your whispers because we want to hear what the Minister is saying.  I am appealing, next time I do not know. 

          HON. DR. MOMBESHORA: Thank you Madam Speaker, let me start again.  The Land Commission Bill been necessitated by the enactment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act Number 20:2013 and in particular Section 297:5 and 6 which provides that;

          (5)     The State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level, through legislative and other measures, must assist the Zimbabwe Land Commission in carrying out its functions and must protect its independence impartiality, integrity and effectiveness.

          (6)     The Government must make adequate and suitable provision, through legislation and other appropriate means to ensure that:-

(a)     The Zimbabwe Land Commission is able to exercise its functions, efficiently and independently; and

(b)     Persons employed by the Zimbabwe Land Commission carryout their duties conscientiously, fairly and impartially.

          Hon. Members, the Bill before you is a milestone in a Land Reform of historic dimensions almost without comparison in the modern era.  It is an achievement long in the making, beginning with our people being dispossessed of the ancestral rights to their land during the colonial era, and distinguished by several land marks over many generations, specifically from the  First Chimurenga (1896-1897), the Second Chimurenga in 1966, culminating in our independence in 1980 and finally the decisive phase of the Land Reform in 2000.

Why do I say that our Land Reform is “almost without comparison in the modern era?”  In terms of the magnitude of the historical imbalances that needed to be redressed, the size of land transferred, the speed and comprehensiveness of the transfer, the numbers of our people who have benefitted and the extent of the benefits actually accruing to our people; it is hard to find its peer anywhere in the world in recent times.  Allow me to quote from a recent publication, Zimbabwe Takes back Its Land.

In the biggest land reform in Africa, 6,000 white farmers have been replaced by 245 000 indigenous farmers.  Zimbabwe’s land reform has not been neat and huge problems remain.  But 245,000 new farmers have received land and most of them are farming it.  They have raised their own standard of living; have already reached production levels of the former white farmers and with a bit of support are ready to substantially increase that production. 

The area of land redistribution to date stands at 12.6 million hectares.  Such a massive exercise achieved in a relatively short period of time resulted in a number of administrative issues like boundary disputes, double allocation and infrastructure sharing problems amongst others, which need to be addressed holistically.  Hence, the establishment of the Land Commission through Section 296 of the Constitution.

In terms of the legislative background to this Bill, it is the first significant legislative intervention in the sphere of land reform and land tenure since the Land Acquisition Act of 1992 and the various amendments to that Act (the last of which was in 2002).  It also seeks to repeal two colonial-era pieces of land settlement and tenure legislation, namely Rural Land Act and the Agricultural Land Settlement Act which were enacted in 1963 and 1969 respectively.

The Bill will provide for the corporate status of the Commission, the tenure of office and conditions of service of the members of the Commission.  The Bill is also premised on the Commission’s functions as set out in Section 297 of the Constitution and provides for the appointment of an Executive Secretary of the Commission and its secretariat as well as the hiring of experts or consultants where necessary.  It upholds the independence and impartiality of the Commission and its members and addresses conflicts of interest on the part of members of the Commission and its staff in the course of discharging their duties.  It provides for the submission of reports by the Commission to the Minister and the tabling by the Minister of such reports before Parliament.

The Bill provides for jurisdiction of the Commission to conduct comprehensive inspections and audits of agricultural land to conduct investigations whenever complaints regarding the supervision, administration and allocation of agricultural land are raised as well as over disputes regarding agricultural land,  The manner in which the Commission may conduct investigations and audits is outlined.  Investigations will take the form of public or closed hearings.

Part IV of the Bill incorporates most of the existing provisions in the Rural Land Act, which will be repealed by this Bill.  It relates to the general administration of State Land by the Minister responsible for the category of State Land in question.

Part VII of the Bill deals with the appellate and dispute settlement functions of the Commission as well as the Commission’s power to make regulations in relation thereto.  It must be read together with the Fifth Schedule.  I wish to draw the House’s attention to the fact that in striving to settle land disputes and complaints, the Commission is enjoined to endeavour to employ conciliation and mediation between the disputants as a first resort.  Even where these efforts fail, the disputants are assisted by the Commission to come up with a clear agreed statement of the issues to be decided by the Commission.

The Bill will provide for the establishment of a Register of Partially Alienated State Land Rights.  Every entry in the Register of a Partially Alienated State Land Rights (whether it be a permit, lease or offer letter) will be deemed to be the definitive record of such right and in the event of any inconsistency between such entry and any other record of such right kept in terms of this Bill or otherwise, the entry in the register shall prevail as proof of the Partially Alienated State Land Rights or any particular thereof.

Under Part IX of the Bill, the Ministry is enabled, through its designated officers, to create, vary or cancel statutory servitudes over or in favour of holdings of partially alienated State Land.  It provides for the reference of disputes in connection with proposed statutory servitude and the rights privileges and obligations of interested parties of such disputes by the Commission.  Provision is made for the registration of statutory servitudes in the Registry of Partially Alienated State Land Rights and where appropriate, in the Deeds Registry – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON: CHITINDI: On a point of order. What the Minister is saying is very important, contrary to popular belief.  There is too much noise coming from the front, especially where Vice P{resident Mudzuri is sitting.  Please, tibatsireiwo. – [HON. MEMBERS: Aah!] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members. I have the right to give an answer to the point of order.  The point of order is noted and I appeal to Hon. Members that while you are allowed to talk to your colleagues, you are allowed to go out, talk and come back so that others hear what the Minister is saying.  You can proceed Hon Minister.

HON. DR. MOMBESHORA: Part XI of the Bill sets forth general provisions of the Bill and deals with the following matters:  rentals for State land; the Minister’s authority to give the Commission policy directions; limited immunity against legal proceedings for the Commission or any member of the Commission, Executive Secretary or person acting under the direction of the Commission in pursuance of this Bill and provision for the provincial, district and other offices of the Commission.

The Bill should enable the Land Commission to carry out its functions efficiently, effectively and impartially as envisaged by the Constitution.  I therefore submit the Land Commission Bill for consideration and move that the Bill be read for a second time.

          HON. CHITINDI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.

1.    Introduction

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.

3.    Methodology

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       Findings

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:

i.       Sale of a piece of land to multiple persons, by land officers, ranging from US$3 000 to US$7 000;

ii.    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.

v.    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.

ix. Land allocations leading to congestion instead of decongestion in some areas, due to poor pegging and monitoring by land officers.

x. Some district land committees contribute to land conflicts due to biased recommendations on land allocations;

xi. 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.

xii. 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 were 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 endeavor 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. 

5       Recommendations

i.       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.

ii.    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.

iii. Section 28(1) should promote investment into the agricultural sector rather than hinder it.

iv. Land disputes need to be depoliticized, especially by policy-makers to enable the Commission to find lasting solutions.

v.    Inhabitants of an area should be given first preference in land allocations before aspiring persons from other areas are taken into consideration.

vi. Traditional leaders should be consulted in the land allocations and in dispute resolution.

vii.                      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. 

viii.                   Corrupt land officers should be removed from the system, instead of transferring them to other provinces.  This does not solve the problem.

ix. The Ministry of Lands should be given adequate resources to conduct surveys and pegging of land in order to resolve disputes associated with boundaries.

x.    The principle of 'one-person, one-farm' should be implemented through a state of the art database, with software that can detect multiple ownership.

xi. 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.

xii.                      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.

xiii.                    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.

xiv.                    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.

xv.                       The Land Commission should be visible in the ten provinces of the country and this should be made mandatory. Hence Treasury should avail funding. 

xvi.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.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Good afternoon Madam Speaker.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Good afternoon Hon. Member.

HON. NDUNA: Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and also want to recognise that we have got a new carpet in the National Assembly and this goes a long way in terms of harmonizing our operations and  cleanliness as cleanliness is next to godliness Madam Speaker.

I want to thank the Minister for tabling this Bill and I say in its totality and entirety if this Bill is enacted, we should see an efficient and flawless system in the acquisition of land, in the operation of land and in all the issues that have to do with land. I am aware and cognisant of the fact that some of the Acts that are being repealed and amended are way before the liberation struggle of this country was waged. Some of them in 1963, the other one in 1969. I believe in all honesty that repealing and amending some of these Acts will only do good in terms of empowering our formerly marginalised black majority which this country and the liberators of this country went to war for in order to completely emancipate them and empower them totally.

Madam Speaker, I want to touch on first and foremost, the issue of downsizing of farms because the issue that is being tabled here and being touched on hinges in particular towards empowerment of all the formally marginalised black majority; who are now taking place of the less than 4 000 former farm owners who were predominantly White by increasing the hectarage and making sure that those owners who are now predominantly Black also own large tracts of land. We have just duplicated what obtained in the era of neo-colonialist and former colonial powers. So the issue of downsizing of land from however much to 400 hectares is a noble idea Madam Speaker. In particular, that is being led by the Land Commission.

Madam Speaker, I would want to say as they conduct their operations and as has been alluded to by the Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture; there should be eradication and removal and not transference of Land Officers in the districts and in the provinces. These people should be relieved off their duties as we have seen that they have taken advantage of the value of land and the land in their ambits and under their jurisdiction in order to enrich themselves and to indulge in corrupt collusion infested actions and nepotism. They have taken corruption to a higher level utilising our God given resources which is land. So, because of that, these Land Officers should be relieved of their duties and may be go to other sectors that are not engaged in land redistribution and land distribution.

Why do I say so? Madam Speaker, some of these Land Officers are also now utilising land redistribution as a political tool in order to utilise it as a spring board for their own political aspirations and power grabing. I am alive to the fact that in my Constituency in Chegutu West, there was a Land Officer by the name of Kunonga who was transferred to Kadoma, but as we speak Madam Speaker, his wife is the one who is heading the Lands Department in Chegutu. This man we are talking about has got an appetite for a political position wherever, because he was once in Chegutu wanting a position of an MP but was transferred, but now who has been Christened and installed in Chegutu is his wife. We have not done justice to issues of incest and in issues of corruption. We have just transferred a problem and we have created another one in Chegutu West in particular.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can you put off that.

HON. NDUNA: At some point, between 2013 and 2016, I called not for relocation of Land Officers. I said there was a Land Officer who was in Chegutu who has now been transferred to Chiredzi. I feel for that Constituency because that Land Officer is so corrupt and he can never be cleaned. These Land Officers…

HON. MLISWA: On a point of order.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Member there is a point of order. What is your point of order?

HON. MLISWA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker. You saw me walking out. I would like Hon. Guzah to attend to a person from Hurungwe West who is looking for an MP. I am no longer an MP of Hurungwe West. He is seating in the Court Yard, he is Mr. Bundo. I thank you. – [Laughter.]

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker and thank you for allowing me to continue. The …

An Hon. Member having crossed between the Chair and the Member speaking.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you cannot cross the floor like that. I think you know the rules.

HON. NDUNA: If you can allow me to continue.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members.

HON. NDUNA: Madam Speaker, the National Assembly and Parliament in particular is not only an arena to display oratory prowess and public speaking prowess, but it is an arena to also bring to bare and bring to the open some of the corruption activities that are carried out in our Constituencies. I am reliably informed that the relocation of one Mr. Kunonga to Kadoma has not done good. He is still parceling and selling land in Kadoma. So, the sooner the Minister sees that we have such corruption infested …

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. Please can you take your sit? We cannot keep on speaking about a particular person who is not able to come here and explain on his behalf. Honestly, I think about the staff of the Ministry of Lands, that one you can go to the Ministry so that it is solved.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I hope the issue has been well ventilated. On the issue of Section 52 that speaks to Land Tax, it is my fevervent view that Land Tax be suspended for now and there should be a moratorium, or there should be three seasons from the time the person has been given land or the time pronouncement has been tabled of an anticipated payment of land tax for the land that is inhabited by whichever farmer, to the Minister of Lands.  There should be a grace period.  In my view, that should not be less than three years from the date that the pronouncement has been made so that our people are not used to reverse the gains of land and the Agrarian Reform Programme of 2000. 

Madam Speaker, whatever it is that was carried out on the land reform; it was done to remove the bottlenecks, the impediments, the barriers and all hindrances towards the empowerment of the formerly marginalised black majority.  We are utilising archaic, moribund, historic and antiquated ways of dealing with the formerly marginalised black majority.  Madam Speaker, we cannot go that route – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am being requested to repeat but I will not repeat that statement.  Madam Speaker, I say so because some of the land that is currently inhabited by these farmers, some of it is on red soils, some on sand soils and some is on not so rich soils.  If there is a uniform and constant way of making remittances or payments in terms of what is required by the Minister of Lands, it is both unfair and antiquated.  It is not the right way to approach a modern day situation.  It is not the right way to approach the formerly marginalised black majority.  Whatever it is that we are doing, we should do it for the empowerment of the indigenous community. 

Madam Speaker, I beg to differ and say, by making sure we are paying land tax without a moratorium and without a grace period, we are not doing justice to our formerly marginalised people.  The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture touched on issues to do with women’s rights that they are human rights.  The issue of the women to be aligned to their men when it comes to issuance of offer letters in terms of land, should be a thing of the past.  There is a Beijing Protocol which speaks to 50:50, I believe it should be automatic.  When the spouse passes on, the wife should take over without any impediments and they should also have the power to go and be allocated land on their own.  The land commissioners should look into this and bring with them new and dynamic ways of parcelling out land because women are also human and women’s rights are also human rights.

I also see issues to do with disputes on land that the Minister touched on.  The Land Commission Bill should seek to align itself to the Mines and Minerals Act because in the present state, the Mines and Minerals Act supersedes or has power over the Land Act.  Without the powers that Land Act currently does not have, which are residing in the Mines and Minerals Act, we have no reason to have another Act which speaks to repealing and amendment of those other Acts that were in place in 1963 and 1969.  The Agrarian Reform Programme was solely enacted to empower the formerly marginalised black majority.  As long as we do not have the Land Act also having equal powers with the Mines and Minerals Act, what is going to happen is, armed with a Mines and Minerals certificate, the miner is going to eject and remove the farmer from the land which they have got an offer letter to.

The Land Commission Act should seek to harmonise the Mines and Minerals Act.   This is to ensure that what the commissioners and the Minister seeks to do in the Land Act is not repealed, ejected and thrown out by the Mines and Minerals Act.  The Mines and Minerals Act, which in my view, is skewed towards the former neo-colonialists; the colonisers of this land, who are armed with certificates of mines, who are now going to reverse the Agrarian Reform Programme of 2000.  It is my fervent view that we should seek in the same vein, to harmonise the two Acts.

Lastly, Madam Speaker,, there has been three seasons worth of three inputs of the cotton farmers.  There has been the taking over of the COTCCO debt of $68 million.  It should now be a time for the Lands Ministry and the Portfolio Committee to work-up-to the beneficiation chain.  We should use the Commissioners’ Act in order to make sure that we revive the entities of beneficiation of our cotton such as David White Head Textiles.  We cannot continue to have it reside in the hands of judiciary management in a hospital state as though we do not have the input that is the cotton and the lint that the Government has taken so much pain to make sure they support.  They have taken so much pain to make sure they support the value chain.  So we need to beneficiate our chain by empowering, rejuvenating, rehabilitation and resuscitation of David White Head.

HON. MLISWA:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.  This is a Land Commission Enquiry, the distribution of inputs falls under the Ministry of Agriculture.  Can he please be guided?  Thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, the Hon. Member is in order.  Could you please leave him to present his debate.

HON. NDUNA:  Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for the protection that you have accorded to me but when the lions are moving and the dogs are barking, the lions do not turn back and look because they know that the dogs will not do anything to them....

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Member.

HON. MLISWA:  On a point of order....

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I am not recognising you Hon. Mliswa.  I am presiding over the House.  So, I am the one who replies to the Hon. Member – [HON. MLISWA:  Because I am the lion.] – Hon. Member, this is where you are going out of order now.  Would you proceed with your debate concerning the Land Bill.

HON. NDUNA: I want to thank you Madam Speaker.

HON. MANDIPAKA:  Thank you Madam Speaker. I will be very short and my message is going to the Executive and the nation of Zimbabwe.  When we set out to have Commissions of Inquiry in different facets, I think it is high time that this nation respects our commissions that we put in place in terms of our Constitution.  I say so because in terms of our Constitution.  When the Commission goes about doing its fundamental roles, we would want to see a situation where they do it, perhaps independently as provided for by the Constitution.  Whatever they bring out should be taken into consideration.  One very fundamental thing that this country has done since attaining independence is the Land Reform. 

          The Land Reform, Madam Speaker was one of the most important programmes that this nation has embarked upon because of the imbalances that existed in past.  The Bill that is coming before this House needs to be supported and the introduction of the Land Commission is going to make sure that we re-dress the imbalances that we have seen to be in existence.  According to the report that has been produced by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, we have heard a lot of things that have been happening in the process of distributing land. There was talk about people just resettling themselves, some in water bodies, some in heritage sites and others were even taking extra farms.  Once we have a Land Commission, I want to strongly believe that these issues are going to be addressed Madam Speaker. 

          We have heard from the Chairperson that the people that are seconded to this Commission are men and women of integrity. Men and women who are so competent, they represent diverse cultural beliefs that we have in the country.  Whatever they are going to come up with, I think as a nation, we should respect our own Commissions.

          However, above all, when this Land Commission is in place and starts operations, Madam Speaker, it is very important that they address the anomalies that were created during the Land Reform Programme.  There are a number of challenges that we have, I think they are going to move fast to make sure that these issues are addressed. 

I would like to congratulate the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee who talked about creation of credible data.  It is high time that we as a nation must have a credible data that will tell us that Mr. Mandipaka has multiple farms.  Action should be taken to make sure that we do not perpetuate the imbalances of the past but instead advocate for black advancement.  I thank you.

          *HON. MLISWA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  I would like to contribute much to the Bill. The issue of land is very important.  Firstly, this Commission is going to make sure that land will not be attributed to ZANU PF but to the people of Zimbabwe. It is very important that the Government should bestow more power to independent people who have a lot to do with Zimbabwe so that when they are talking about land, they should not include politics.  The people who fought for this land did not fight it for ZANU PF party only but for the people of Zimbabwe. 

As you see our Vice President Hon. Mnangagwa here, he went to war; he is from the Karanga tribe but he did not fight for the Karanga people alone, instead the wholes nation of Zimbabwe to be free.  The late Joshua Nkomo who was in ZAPU, fought in the struggle so that the people would get land, so there has to be a professional approach.  There is an issue about multiple farm owners, especially in the ZANU PF part where I used to belong.  There is a lot of corruption there to an extent that even the people who went to war do not have farms but Cabinet Ministers have two or more.  So, we want the Commission to investigate this.  In Mashonaland West, I have a record of people who have farms which are registered in the names of their grand children.  I was the Vice Chairman of the Land Committee as the Provincial Chairman of the ruling party so, I have the data and I will submit it to the Land Commission.

So, before they start investigating, they should call all the people so that they gather information before they go any further.  I think we should come to a point, like in Norton Constituency, Ward 15, there is an issue which the Hon. Minister Mombeshora is aware of that Councilors from ZANU PF think that they have powers to give land, especially Kujekera from Ward 15.  People are corrupt so they are selling out land; I am looking at this in line with the principles of the party that they should tell their councilors that they do not have powers to parcel out land.  If people want land, they should follow the proper channels from district to province so that the recommendations will be taken to Hon. Minister Mombershora

I am talking about this Madam Speaker, because it is troubling people, the war veterans.  I think the board should make sure that the war veterans get 20% because they are the ones who went to the struggle.  It is very important that the war veterans get the 20%, especially this time when the party has thrown them aside.  This Board should make sure that the War Veterans are looked after.  I am very pained with this because the ruling party has thrown away the war veterans, their lives are in a sorry state.  They went to war so that people will get land but up to now they do not have any land.  So, the Board should see to it that the war veterans are allocated their 20%.

For investment to get into this country, people should know their future.  There should be finality in terms of the tenure.  There are no people who invest on land because even ourselves with ‘99’ year leases, we are facing invasions.  Our offer letters are not saying anything.  The ZANU PF party is even sending the youth to go and harass even those who have left the party like Professor Mutambara.  I think the Land Committee should look at this from a professional point of view.  There will be no investment that will come into a project which does not have any certainty.  This certainty should come in terms of land because if we do not do that we will continue importing maize and we will keep blaming Hon. Made.

The whites who do not have offer letters and lease agreements are getting money from the banks.  So, what does it help you? The whites in this country are now on the forefront of farming whilst they do not have any tenure of land.  I think the ruling party should be ashamed of this, why then did they chase them away when they are the ones who are farming.  They are the ones who are back on the farms, so if you see that this Land Board should review the land policy so that the black people should get land, what is it that is needed? Is it farming or is it ownership - ownership without production or ownership without money, it is not ownership. We need a review. I think even the beneficiaries – I also want to add my voice because you allowed someone to talk about the distribution of inputs.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, Backbenchers, please leave the front bench for the Executive.

          *HON. MLISWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. This Land Board has got a lot of work before it. It requires people who are courageous because we can see that even up to now, the Commissioners from the Commissions - I agree with what Hon. Mandipaka has said that the Commissions that are being put in place in the country do not have anything to do. Even those from ZACC or Anti-Corruption Commission, they do not have any work to do. So, if Commissions are in place, they should be allowed to investigate people. Is this Land Commission going to be a toothless dog again like ZACC?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are the one who said you are talking about Land Commission, but now you are referring to ZACC –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-  Order Hon. Members.

HON. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, I am still contributing to the debate on the aspect of the functions of the Commission and credibility of the Commission and the roles of the Commission.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, you are allowed to use one language either Shona, Ndebele or English.

*HON. MLISWA: We are talking about the Land Commission but I am saying it does not help if we put toothless dogs Commissions like the ones that I pointed out as examples. I am still in order. It does not help to put toothless Commissions in place because tomorrow, if the Commissions recommend for example that Minister Chombo’s land should be taken away from him, it will not help because they will be toothless. We have come here to work. Parliament should have an oversight role on Commissions.

When I am looking at my role as a Member of Parliament, mine is an oversight role, which means that we see and investigate. Our function is to investigate so that if these Commissions are working, they should have the mandate to do it. So, we need courageous people because there is a lot of work which needs to be done. There is an issue of boundaries which are still being done. The chiefs think that they are supposed to parcel out land. We do not know who is supposed to parcel land. These Commissions should look at all these issues because chiefs also have land which they are giving out.

These Commissions should look into that and sit down with chiefs. We respect our chiefs but the chief should sit down with Commissions so that we will not come up with two Commissions of land, the one headed by chiefs and the one headed by these Commissions. I am saying this because in the rural areas, there are problems when it comes to the youth. There is an issue concerning big farms. I am one of those who have a big farm.

I want to thank the Comrades or the Government which gave me the land not ZANU PF. Madam Speaker, I want to repeat that I want to thank the Government, not ZANU PF - which gave me land because my offer letter does not have a letterhead of ZANU PF, but a Government letterhead. It is a noble idea, even when I campaigned in Norton; I campaigned with the proceeds from my farm. This issue of saying that the Minister wants to go and reduce the farm sizes have you given them enough inputs? This is because if you do your audits, you find that the Government is not providing enough inputs.

We do not want to rush to cut the farms because when we were given inputs, we have records. The records are there at the GMB. I was one of the people who would take a lot of produce to GMB because I used the inputs but there are people who are not using the inputs. Let us separate the issues. I have 1 000 cattle. So I think that the Land Commission should give more land to people who have cattle because one cow needs 4 hectares. So with my 1 000 cattle, it means I need 4 000 hectares. This means that the Land Commission should also look into that and review especially those who are into cattle farming that they should be given more land.

This is because these people went and took loans from the bank. The 99 year lease allows people to go and take loans from the bank. It does not say you can get loan from the bank only, but you can get loans from anyone, then you give that 99 year lease to that person and it is allowed. So, before you take away the farms from these people, is the Land Commission going to pay the loans they have? They should also look at that. We should not rush that people are not able to farm because it is the Government which has failed to give people inputs.

On Command agriculture, we are looking forward that the Land Commission should look into that so that it looks at farms which have irrigation that they will be given the inputs. I think they will also be involved in recommending farms which should benefit from this command agriculture. This will help that the fertilizers will not only be directed to the bosses.

*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am appealing to you Hon. Members. I think you should listen to what Hon. Mliswa is saying because Hon. Members are conducting other meetings. We want to hear what the Hon. Member is saying.

*HON. MLISWA: The Land Commission should also give out recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture on which farms should have irrigation. We do not want to keep on channeling money to other farms. They should recommend that new farms should get irrigation schemes, not that the Minister of Agriculture should send AREX officers to do the investigation. I think when it comes to that; they should work together with the Commission - like what I did in Norton, I caught them off balance, unaware.  This is just an example that they should move together, there is nothing that I am saying.  I want to go back to this land board that youths should also be looked at.  It really pains me as a person who leads a non-political organisation.  Most of them do not have farms and they have agriculture degrees but are not given any land.  So, I am just pleading with the Land Commission that when they are working, they should also prioritise the youths.  Those who used to steal inputs should also give those farms to the youths who do not have farms.  Where I come from in Norton; a lot of youths are staying with their parents. 

Many people have sold their cattle so that they educate their children; I think this is not the Zimbabwe that we want. Land should be a solution.  The youths should be considered as well.  If you go to China, you see that you do not need this vast land; they have cooperatives which are really organised.  What is important is who buys the produce.  I was talking to Hon. Made that in Norton, there are a lot of farms, there is GMB and there is a stock-feed company for GMB. 

          THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, I want to remind the Hon. Member that he is left with five minutes.

          *HON. MLISWA: I will be happy that they should put more inputs to the farmers in Norton so that when they plough, the products produced in Mashonaland Central should not be transported to Mashonaland West.  It should stand on its own because there is a GMB there which is lying idle.    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you and I will stop here.   

          *HON. GWANETSA: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on this important Bill.  I am also grateful to the Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee Hon. Chitindi for tackling this Land Commission Bill.  In as far as I am concerned, this is a very important decision which has been made by Government by putting in place a Land Commission Bill. 

          Our history tells us that our forefathers died because they wanted to regain their land from the imperialists, the Britons who had taken the land up and we know of the first war of liberation where our forefathers fought the whites.  The second war of liberation led to the death of the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe abroad in countries like Cuba and other countries.   I am saying, this Commission should be empowered in such a way that it will rectify all the anomalies which led to the death of the sons and daughters who fought for our soil.  We should make it a point that we correct all the mistakes in the proper manner because if we make mistakes in trying to solve this problem, our great grand children will in future blame us for the poor handling of the land situation. 

          When we embarked on the fast tract land reform, we know the mistakes which were done in the process and this happens in any revolution, hence we have to correct all the anomalies and the problems which occurred during that Land Reform Programme.  In other words, we have to look at the personalities of the people who are to be members of this Land Commission.  We also have to look at the criteria used in selecting them.

          (An Hon. Member having passed between the Chair and the member speaking.)

          *THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, Hon. Member.  I thought by now you should know that passing through the Chair and the member speaking is not allowed. 

          *HON. GWANETSA: Madam Speaker, the point I am trying to put across is that we know during the Land Reform Programme, there were some mistakes which were done because it was something which was new. We are saying this Land Commission Bill should now rectify this problem.  This Land Commission should work and produce a report to be presented to His Excellency, the President, Cde. Mugabe.  The Commission should also tackle corrupt activities in the allocation of land because we know our leader is an upright man who fights corruption and he fought until the country was liberated.  

          I am saying the Commission should be scrutinised especially the members of this Commission, they need to be vetted and scrutinised by members of this august House so that we check on their worthiness to be members of this Land Commission.

          HON. MAJOME:  Thank you Madam Speaker, I had almost given up hope, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the debate on this very important Bill – [AN HON. MEMBER:  Inaudible interjection.] – murikutauraka handinzwe kana muchitaura.

          THE DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Members.  Hon. Member, can you raise up your voice, I know you have a low voice but please try so that those who are at the back can  hear you.

          HON. MAJOME:  Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to lend my voice to the debate on this Bill on the Land Commission that is historic for two reasons.  This is the first time that we in Zimbabwe will actually have a Commission on land.  Secondly, I want to really salute the progress that we are making in implementing our Constitution because we are debating this Bill.  Our Constitution requires that there be a Land Commission Bill. 

          Madam Speaker, I want to make three proposals as I debate this very important Bill.  I want to start by thanking the Committee on Agriculture led by Hon. Chitindi for the comprehensive report that they compiled after consulting Zimbabweans about what they expect the Land Commission Bill to be.  I want to just pick on three threads from that Bill so that I will urge the august House to pass a Bill that strengthens the capacity of the Land Commission, and to fulfill the requirements and its functions in terms of the Constitution.  Also to meet the aspirations of Zimbabweans who gave their views around how they want the Bill to be. 

          Madam Speaker, it is my hope that although this Commission is a an Executive Commission, it appears to be a very interesting Commission that is a sui generis Commission as lawyers would say, that is of its own kind.  While the Constitution says it is an Executive Commission but it also has the characteristics of an independent commission.  If this Land Commission or be it an Executive Commission is to perform its functions, it does require independence in a lot of respects that is similar to independent commissions in terms of the Constitution.  It is my hope that the Hon. Minister, Dr. Mombeshora will do everything that he can to ensure that he gives this Commission ample opportunity to actually fulfill its functions.  It is an Executive Commission and it does fall under their purview, but it will be a tragedy if the powers of those in Cabinet will be used to override the work of the Commission, its analysis as well as its recommendations.  

Madam Speaker, I want to urge Hon. Members to also ensure that we strengthen the Bill in terms of its capacity to ensure that Executive powers are not used to override and ignore recommendations of this Commission, which is very important for our economic recovery.  It also is my hope that the Executive does get to respect that fine balance, that it tampers its Executive powers and actually welcomes this Commission as an Institution that will enable the Executive to better fulfill its functions, so as to ensure that we have sound land administration which will support our economic recovery.

While I am on that point, it is a pity that the Hon. Minister of Finance has left the august House.  My second contribution pertains to the capacity that we give to commissions to enable them to fulfill their work.  This House is not a stranger to the very sad state of affairs that has resulted in virtually all those commissions that we have that have been established by the Constitution, having totally insufficient funding to such an extent that they are unable to fulfill their functions. It is my hope that we ensure that this Land Commission does not suffer a still birth arising from the same poverty of scarcity of resources.  One constructive way of ensuring that a Commission does not work is to starve it of funding , resources and not to allocate sufficient funding for the commissioners to go about their work of conducting land audits, giving opinions and ensuring that there is equitable access to land holding as well as making recommendations to simplify our system of land tenure.  This Commission can only be worth its salt if this august House does allocate sufficient funding for it to do that. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to go back to my point that I made about the recommendations and the findings that this Commission is going to make.  It is no secret that reports of other critical State Institutions are not taken seriously.  Reports of the Auditor General are one case in point.  This august House has received report after report of some very critical findings that would save our nation from the Auditor General.  I say this so as to urge Hon. Members of this august House to ensure that we stop the practice of just allowing recommendations to go unfulfilled.  This Land Commission will make very important recommendations that the Executive will need to observe.  Therefore, I urge Hon. Members of this august House not to forget that for this Commission to work, when we pass the Bill, we will need to find out how it is faring and what the Executive has done with its recommendations.

Thirdly, in debating and supporting the strengthening of this Bill, I want to urge the Hon. Minister to ensure that when this Land Commission comes into office, we will see the last of discrimination in the allocation and distribution of land.  Here, I refer to three kinds of discrimination.  I hope that with this Land Commission we will kiss good bye to the discrimination in access to land on the basis of political affiliation.  I think it is a shame that even as I speak now, the distribution of agricultural land is being done on a partisan basis.  It is nothing less than a scandal that land committees, whether they be district or provincial are staffed by officials of the ruling party.  In their official capacity they sit as ex-official members.

What chance does a person who does not belong to ZANU PF have of being allocated land or of retaining the land that they have acquired if the land committees themselves are manned by officials of a ruling party?  This Land Commission is an opportunity for us as a country to depart from that very unhappy and shameful discriminatory practice where people acquire national resources on the basis of political affiliation.  It is my hope that this Land Commission will do its work and not do this. 

I also refer to discrimination on the basis of race Mr. Speaker Sir.  It is my hope that this Land Commission allows Zimbabwe and assists us to seriously determine what it is that we want to do with our land.  Do we say that people of a particular race only are the ones that are able to occupy agricultural land or to use it or is it every Zimbabwean, as our Constitution requires, because there is confusion in the issues to do with land.   We hear pronouncements from political leaders who seem to suggest that if a person is not black he/she cannot acquire agricultural land.  What if those people are Zimbabweans and can also queue alongside other Zimbabweans who have not been privileged before and are capable of farming? 

It is my hope that the Land Commission, through this Bill, will ensure that it fulfills those requirements that all Zimbabweans who qualify for land are able to use agricultural land.  It is also my hope that the Land Commission does also get rid of the existing discrimination on the basis of gender that is found in access to agricultural land.  It is no secret that most of our farmers in this country are women but if we go to our land tenure records, we will find that only a minority of women were allocated agricultural land.  I therefore, urge the Hon. Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement together with the Land Commission to particularly look at the issue of succession – that is inheritance to agricultural land that comes to people when they acquire access to this land, seeing there is a lot of confusion.

In my work as a legal practitioner, I encounter very unhappy situations where a man and a woman marry and usually it is the man who is given an offer letter or maybe a lease.  However, when they divorce, the women involved usually are the ones who will be working on the land.  When courts then distribute land in terms of the Matrimonial Causes Act, the women usually get a raw deal because the courts will say their hands are tied as the land is State land.  A lot of unfairness usually occurs and hence I hope that the Land Commission, through this Bill if we pass, will particularly look at the passing on of agricultural land by law, which is through succession upon the death of the holders or upon the divorce of the parties involved. 

I want to end by speaking on the issue of security of tenure.  It is also my hope that we strengthen the Land Commission to ensure that the Land Commission is able to search high and low and deep and wide to find out those models of land tenure that will assist Zimbabwe to have a land tenure system that not only makes economic sense, because right now our land is a dead asset; those who have agricultural land cannot borrow any money from the banks because of a very obscure land tenure system. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, an offer letter is the most insecure piece of paper that a person can ever have in terms of land.  In my respectful view, even the 99 year lease does not accord the holder with security of tenure.  It is my hope that the land commission will finally answer that very difficult question to the effect that what is so wrong with giving black Zimbabwean title deeds to agricultural land.  Should we as an independent nation do worse than the colonial government?  Are we so mistrustful of the capacity of black people to own agricultural land and have title deeds?  Do we think so lowly of them?  It is my hope that we finally answer that question and I hope that we will answer it in the affirmative and ultimately that the Land Commission gives us a land tenure system where Zimbabweans are able to hold title deeds to agricultural land so that they can use that asset as a resource that recovers the economy. 

With that Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to finally conclude by urging Hon. Members to do everything we can, even at the Committee Stage to strengthen the Land Commission Bill to ensure that Parliament gives the Commission power to conduct land audits, to ensure that there is transparency, accountability and fairness in land distribution.  Also, the Commission should ensure that there is environmental soundness in access to land and that we stop political abuse of access to state resources.  I hope that the Land Commission will start by investigating access by the State of private land in urban areas, for example, here in Zimbabwe and distributing it only to ZANU PF party officials.

It is my hope Mr. Speaker Sir that the Land Commission gets to work very quickly.  Let us give it the power and the resources to do so, so that it can perform its Executive functions but with sufficient leeway and space for it to actually give recommendations to the Executive that would be for the good of the nation.  I thank you.

HON. J. TSHUMA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would want to thank the Committee on Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development led by Hon. Chitindi for bringing up such an important dossier before this august House. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to speak with reference to farming in Matabeleland vis-à-vis farming in Mashonaland.  There is going to be a bit of arithmetic’s involved here, so I hope we brace ourselves for that so that we understand and the Commission can help us to bring this whole thing in a holistic approach and manner in such a way that there is fair practice in terms of payment of levies when it comes to farm ownership.  I say so because mainly in Matabeleland, we practice cattle ranching. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will let you know that one cow needs about two and half to four hectares of land.  The cow is bred for about two years for it to be mature enough to be sold.  When it is sold, the prices range between $300 to $500, which means that a farmer in Matabeleland is actually realising about $500 per every three to four hectares.  Our counterparts in Mashonaland where there is favourable rain patterns, on one hectare only, can produce between seven to ten tonnes of maize.  The price at GMB is so favourable; it is about $390 per tonne. If you calculate that you will know that it means that a farmer in Mashonaland is going to make over $3900 per hectare per farming season, while a farmer in Matabeleland makes $500 per four hectares.  If you divide it, it is about $100 per hectare per two seasons.  For us to then tax these people at par will be totally wrong.  This is because somebody else is making money and somebody else is actually taking out money to sustain their projects. 

My appeal to the Land Committee is that when they come up with structures and pricing for these things, please bear with farmers in Matabeleland.  We are cattle rangers and we do not normally produce crops that give good yields per season and give good returns per every agricultural year.  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is very important that we address this through that Commission so that we all feel that we are part of this whole system and we are moving together.  Once that area is touched, I think that will alleviate the problems that Matabeleland farmers are facing at the moment. 

My second contribution Mr. Speaker Sir to the Land Commission is that I hope that the audits that are being spoken about are going to be carried out thoroughly.  We are tired as a nation to see people that are going out to farms to carry out braais and parties instead of farming.  Let us be sincere about this thing.  It is not about being partisan; it is about food security for our nation, which will in turn make sure that we do not spend money in importing food.  That will come from sincere operations on farms.  I hope that we shall all adhere to the systems of the Land Commission whereby if you cannot use it, you must lose it so that we give people who are capable of using these things for the betterment of our nation. 

We do not want to come into this august House and be legislators who are going to oversee a sinking thing just because some people are greed. I hope we will definitely do that.  It is not an attack on anybody but it is a pure appeal to say let us all be sincere with this land issue because this is where the economy lies.  Once we are sincere about it, if we are given land and we use it, then we are good to go. 

Finally Mr. Speaker Sir, I hope that on command agriculture, if ever there is anybody who has decided to be devil enough to take inputs and corruptly sell them, definitely they must be brought to book this time so that people know that our system has got teeth.  Talking, threatening people and doing nothing will cause people to continue doing wrong things.  At the same time, it is the Government that is going to be blamed.  I hope if ever there is anybody who is doing anything of that kind, they must know that they will face the music and let them be exemplary.  We mean business because this is about the nation’s survival.  The nation will never survive as long as agriculture is not intact.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about these issues.  I hope that we are all going to look at these issues not on partisan or ethnic lines but on reality because we are Zimbabweans.  It is our country and we need it to survive and we can only do that if we have one vision and the vision that is being propelled by His. Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

*HON. MUTSEYAMI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me the chance to make my contribution on this Bill.  I am glad with what has been said by previous speakers but there is one point which I want to add.  We should be aware that in Chipinge we have areas where people were forcibly evicted from that place, such as the Mandere area and the Chipanga in Middle Sabi.  These people were relocated to some areas and this eviction was done in 1950s and 1960s.  These people were transplanted including their chiefs, headmen and their culture.  This was done by the imperialists; whites.  From what I know, some of them are relatives of Hon. Matambanadzo.  When these people were evicted, I have realised that the redistribution of Land was being done from 2003 to date.  We would have expected this programme to first of all return the people evicted from their original areas.  These were people who were supposed to have been returned to their areas and then the remaining land would be given to other beneficiaries but after taking into account the people evicted from their original lands. 

          Therefore, I am begging you that this Bill should start by giving the indigenous owners of these lands; those who were evicted.  In my area we have a place called Ndowoyo in Chisumbanje where we have black soil that is where we find the cane field.  We would like to have the indigenous people getting the land.  Unfortunately, the black people who are supposed to be the beneficiaries are being evicted and the land is being given to a white man called Mr. Billy Rautenbach and he is working hand in hand with the Government.  The original people in these lands were good farmers who were into agriculture especially into cotton.  We are pleading with the Land Commission that these indigenous people have been evicted from their land, they should be returned into their original lands. 

The other point I want to raise is that some of this land which is being allocated people include the plantations.  Such areas include Nyanga, Bende, Tillberry, Stapleford and Ellen forest.  All these places used to be fields which were used by the indigenous people for farming purposes.  The people have taken over these plantations and they are cutting down these trees and there is no chance that the people who are cutting down these trees would replant them so that we retain our forests. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I am foresighted and in 10 to 15 years, Zimbabwe will be importing wood because these people are decimating these forests at an alarming rate and yet we expect them to be planting trees, harvest the trees and plant new forests.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I am not going to add something on what has already been said.  Let me move on to a new thing.  I am pleading with the people of Zimbabwe, be patriotic, be in love with the place where you were born. However, we realised that we have people of the Ndau origin being resettled in Mashonaland East, being removed from the people of their area.  Some of the people are being taken to Matabeleland, do we not have indigenous people in those areas who should be resettled in their areas of origin.  People are crossing these countries going to other areas where they do not belong and yet we have people who belong to those areas who should benefit from this land resettlement programme.

 Mr. Speaker Sir, in Chipinge, do we not have Ndau people who want to occupy the land of their ancestors?  If this Land Commission is going to take an audit of the land distribution, there are some people who have moved from those areas and yet the people of those areas were not able to benefit.  We have the Ndau people who are being robbed of their land, which is being given to the Zezurus.  I think even the beneficiaries should also be ashamed of occupying the land which is supposed to be occupied by people of that area. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Commissioners should be able to administer land effectively.  We do not want to have seven out of ten members in that Commission coming from one province.  I believe that the appointment to the Commission should be on merit whereby people should be involved in that because they have expertise in the land utilisation and distribution.  Hon. Mliswa has promised to bring names into this august House so that we can scrutinise and vet the members of this Land Commission.  I know that Hon. Mliswa will bring these names into this august House, if you do not publish them, I know Hon. Mliswa and his character will take them to the press so that they are published. 

I am pleading for the people in Musikavanhu area that they need to be given some new pieces of land because the current place they are farming has now been turned into dessert.  I thank you.

*HON. ZEMURA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on this Land Commission Bill.  My observation is that when this is put into place, a lot of maladministration is going to be rectified because the land distribution had some problems.  We know that land should be distributed on an equitable system so that everybody benefits.  We plead with the Land Commission not to take away land distributed to other people.  We are aware of the fact that when the land distribution programme was implemented, we had some people who were criticizing the exercise saying this is just a joke, it is a political gimmick and this will be reversed. 

Therefore, people allocated land should benefit and be empowered to use the land.  They should not be deprived of their land because we have had some late comers who used to say this is a political gimmick.  We have had the situation where people are now being allocated land in pasture lands or other administrative lands for schools and clinics.  Those people who were criticizing even went to the extent of advising others to refrain taking the land. 

Now, that we are embarking on Command Agriculture, these people want to get land and yet they were saying it was a political gimmick.  I plead with the Land Commission that they should not deprive people who were the forerunners, who heeded the call of the land distribution and were allocated land.  We know that Government was saying land should be given to anybody and that is why we have some people who moved into other areas like in Chipinge.  The people in those areas were saying we are not going to take up land because it is a political gimmick.  I am advising this Commission that it should not be reversed the people who benefited from the land to give into account that these people should be given because it is their area and yet when it was being allocated they were only lying looking and being spectators. We have some people who are saying we have double allocations because land has been given to political leadership. As far as I am concerned, this is just a smear campaign. When this land was being allocated in early 2000, I advised my grown up children to go and apply for land and my children listened to me and they applied and they are beneficiaries   of the land distribution exercise because it was being given and allocated to beneficiaries who were 18 years and above.

          Therefore, we do not have to go on a smear campaign saying there was an anomaly in the allocation of land. I am saying whosoever wanted land, these people benefited because they had shown that they wanted the land. Like I have said, there are some people who were saying this is a political gimmick and therefore land should be grabbed from them and be given to slow starters who were blaming this land distribution programme. I will repeat, those who were 18 years or above and applied for land benefited.  I am saying this Land Commission Bill should work on other problems which we faced in the land allocation. They should not deprive anybody who benefited because they were 18 years old and above, but if they find that land was allocated to somebody who was 5 years old by that time, it means there was some problem there.

          If we have people of the Zemura family who applied regardless of how many they were and benefited, they should keep their land. We have some Members of Parliament who have said we have some people of the extended families who benefited. I am saying there was nothing wrong with that because they benefited because they applied and got the land because we have a saying that the early bird catches the fattest worm. Some people are saying people were moved from Matabeleland to Mashonaland and some from Mashonaland to the Ndau land. I am saying there is nothing wrong with that. Zimbabwe is one and you can stay wherever you want because this is our country. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 16th November, 2016.

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MOMBESHORA) the House adjourned at Nineteen Minutes past Four O’clock p.m.

Last modified on Thursday, 01 December 2016 14:59
National Assembly Hansard Vol. 43 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 15 November 2016 VOL 43 NO 11