Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Traditional leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction over the rejection of amendments to the Land Commission Bill where they were pushing to have their members sit in the Zimbabwe Land Commission. In an interview, Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira said they had resolved to appeal to a “higher authority” to ensure that the Bill, which has since sailed through Parliament is not signed into law without their proposals.
A fortnight ago, the National Assembly rejected amendments to the Land Commission Bill that had been referred to it from Senate that sought to include traditional leaders in the Land Commission. Chief Charumbira yesterday lashed out at some legislators who led the onslaught to reject the amendments saying it was unheard of to exclude traditional leaders on governance of land.
“Some adventurous MPs with no history of the struggle believe that chiefs should not sit on the Land Commission. That is outrageous and shocking that we have MPs who think like that. We have appealed to higher offices that the Bill be rejected so that the amendments are accepted to ensure that chiefs are included,” said Chief Charumbira. He said they had since started lobbying for the inclusion of the amendments, adding that the matter was raised during their conference that was held in Bulawayo last month.
“Chiefs are custodians of land and it is unheard of that they can be excluded in matters to do with land. We believe that the rejection was pushed by MPs with a colonial agenda,” said Chief Charumbira. Amendments to the Bill were overwhelmingly adopted in Senate after Chief Charumbira convinced members of the Upper House of the need to include traditional leaders in the Land Commission.
The amendments, were subsequently referred to the National Assembly which shot them down. The National Assembly upheld an Adverse Report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee which said inclusion of traditional leaders was unconstitutional. The Zimbabwe Land Commission is a product of the new Constitution that was adopted in 2013.
Its responsibilities include advising Government on management of agricultural land, carrying out periodic audits and settling land disputes. In its adverse report, the PLC said the Constitution did not allow traditional leaders jurisdiction over agricultural land, but on communal land, rendering their proposed amendments unconstitutional.
The traditional leaders stuck to their guns, saying the recommendations by the PLC were not binding. The Bill was, as a result, referred back to the National Assembly. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora brought back the Bill to the National Assembly with the proposed amendments.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission is chaired by Commissioner Tendai Bare and deputised by Mr Tadious Muzoroza. Its other members are Retired Major Abdul Gabriel Credit Nyathi, Commissioners Jeanatte Marrie Manjengwa, Judith Buzuzi, Emmanuel Eventhough Nyamusa, Margaret Chinamhora, Edmore Augustine Mugwagwa Ndudzo and Luke Taurai Buka.
Mrs Danisile Sibanda Hikwa was also appointed as the secretary of the Commission recently.