Mashonaland West Bureau
The Mashonaland West land committee in is sorting out long-standing disputes to bring order to the farming sector.
National Lands Commission chairperson Mrs Tendai Ruth Bare recently reported that her commission received over a thousand land dispute cases, mostly involving things like boundaries, a majority being in Mashonaland West.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, who is spearheading the fact-finding mission together with district lands officers, on Wednesday told a handful of farmers at Newlands, Little England, and Wild Dark farms in Zvimba East constituency, where dispute cases are rampant, that Government had adopted an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
“We are going to find lasting solutions to these challenges as some have been on farms for over 20 years. As the Government, we have to follow the existing laws so that we don’t end up affecting the farmers who have made these areas their homes.
“There are various options that we can explore including replanning but we will be guided by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa,” she said.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka who discouraged land seekers from paying bribes to get land, said the committee was also going to address issues of farmers awarded land but were failing to use it so that the province becomes more productive.
“There are farmers who are failing to maximise on their land. It is an option on the table that the size is reduced so that we benefit other land seekers. As Vision 2030 touches on the welfare of people including allocation of titled-land to people, which is key to production and productivity as farming is business, we intend to empower farmers by giving them lease agreement forms.
“The Lands and Agriculture Ministry is currently working to address these challenges. There were chaotic land distributions in the previous years in which other officials demanded bribes. However, the exercise is going to benefit only those that are on the original list of land applications,” said Minister Mliswa-Chikoka who chairs the provincial lands committee.
Zvimba East Legislator, Tawanda Tungamirai said the double allocation of land and offer letters was a major problem in the constituency since the beginnings of land reform.
Zvimba district lands officer Mr Harinangoni concurred with Cde Tungamirai saying: “Various political leaders in the previous administration have tried to address the challenges but never yielded any results. The problem is that all these farmers were given offer letters to regularise them which has resulted in physical attacks and destruction of property and livestock.”
The Government, through the fast track land reform programme, resettled over 300 000 people in a space of five years which was bound to create challenges that the commission is addressing now.
Other land disputes in the province include acquisition of indigenous-owned farms, double allocation of land where you get two people on the same land and offer letter withdrawals, inheritance and divorce cases.