14 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Address Land Ownership, Tenure Disputes - Farmers

Resettled farmers expect the Zimbabwe Land Commission to deal with challenges they are facing, chief among them, land ownership and tenure.

This came out at the Zimbabwe Land Commission Needs Validation Workshop held in Harare yesterday.

The workshop was attended by officials from various ministries, parastatals, parliamentary portfolio committees, academia, non governmental organisations and farmers.

Presenting the needs assessment field study findings, a consultant Dr Godwin Hlatshwayo, said land was potentially the mostly important economic asset the country has and there was need to unlock the potential.

He said farmers were complaining of challenges in securing ownership documents such as offer letters, permits and 99-year leases. Some farmers have reportedly waited for between 10 to 15 years to be given the documents.

"Some offer letters are not matching the farm size for instance a letter will state six hectares when the land is four hectares," Dr Hlatshwayo. "There is also the issue of withdrawal of permits, inheritance and new land invasions. There are disputes on boundaries, shared infrastructure and illegal settlers."

Addressing stakeholders attending the workshop, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Deputy Minister Bertha Chikwama said the Department of the Surveyor General, with support from the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme was mapping out agricultural land and farms to establish new boundaries.

She said this was expected to bring finality to the outstanding issues in valuation, compensation and conflict resolution.

"The exercise by the Surveyor General will be catalytic in addressing critical areas towards the finalisation of outstanding issues on valuation, compensation, conflict resolution, base mapping and surveying of the A2 resettled areas," said Deputy Minister Chikwama.

"The interventions will support both my ministry and the ZLC to be able to monitor and track the production and productivity on agricultural land in fulfilment of the national blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation and the 10-Point Plan as enunciated by the Head of State and Government, President Mugabe in August 2015, coupled with Sustainable Development Goals' commitments and other national performance indicators."

ZLC chairperson, Commissioner Tendai Bare, said since independence, 11 million hectares of land had been distributed to landless Zimbabweans. "With this background, the massive re-configurations of the land ownership and usage requires re-alignment in land administration in order to further unpack more value from this very important resource," she said.

"This Needs Assessment is a step towards identifying major areas of capacitation, including staff training and skilling, financial and technological resource mobilisation."

The ZLC was established to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land, conduct periodic agricultural land audits, investigate and determine disputes regarding agricultural land and make recommendations to Government on land administration.

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