BY NIZBERT MOYO
FARMERS have expressed reservations over the effectiveness of the government-initiated land audits in resolving land ownership disputes across the country.
This emerged at the second launch of the national land policy meeting held in Bulawayo on Thursday last week.
Farmers said the government had over the years carried out several land audits which failed to resolve the land disputes.
They also called upon government to do away with 99-year leases which they said were not bankable.
Lovemore Dube from the Commercial Farmers Union said banks do not recognise the 99-year leases.
“I support title deeds rather than the 99-year leases. The government should also create separate title deeds for farm workers as these workers die poor after retiring from work. Zimbabwe National Water Authority should consider charging boreholes not water as the charges are so expensive, thereby affecting farmers’ production,’’ Dube said.
Chief Sibasa also said the land policy should address issues of offer letters indicating that lands officers give people offer letters without involving chiefs in their respective areas.
He said when those people go to occupy the land they fail to recognise traditional leaders. Traditional leaders also said the land policy should consider culture and shrines in the country.
However, Douglas Karoro, who represented Agriculture, Lands, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri, defended the commission saying it had resolved several land disputes.
“There are a number of cases that have been resolved by the Land Commission, the land policy will also bring more sanity and more bigger cases will be resolved,’’ Karoro said.
He said the launch comes in the backdrop of many changes brought about by the land reform programme adding that at independence, 15,5 million hectares of agricultural land was owned by 6 000 white commercial farmers who constituted 1% of the country’s population.
“A greater percentage of Zimbabwe population depends on agriculture and other land-based livelihoods. With the land being a finite resource, it is imperative that a comprehensive and gender sensitive land policy be put in place,’’ he said.
Food and Agriculture Organisation representative, Urvoy Jean-Claude said issues of governance were important for poverty alleviation.