Source: Land Commission Bill gazetted | The Herald June 16, 2016
GOVERNMENT has gazetted the Land Commission Bill, effectively laying the foundation for the Land Commission to carry out periodic land audits countrywide.
The Land Commission Bill is expected to help resolve land disputes, among other issues. The commission will take over functions previously performed by the Agricultural Land Resettlement Board.
Government is prioritising the Bill as it moves to realign various laws with the 2013 Constitution and refine the Land Reform Programme.
According to the Land Commission Bill published in the Government Gazette on Friday, periodic land audits will weed out multiple farms owners, resolve land disputes and deal with land reform beneficiaries leasing out farms to white former commercial farmers.
This comes at a time when Government announced that many farmers were willingly surrendering portions of their farms since the State introduced land rentals and unit tax in July. A1 farmers pay $15 per annum in rentals, while their A2 counterparts are paying $5 per hectare per annum.
The law, once signed by President Mugabe, will operationalise the Zimbabwe Land Commission, whose functions will be to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land.
In terms of Section 297 of the Constitution, the commission will conduct periodic audits of agricultural land, investigate and determine complaints and disputes regarding the supervision, administration and allocation of agricultural land.
The commission will also make recommendations on land usage and size of agricultural land holdings, simplification of the acquisition and transfer of rights in land, systems of land tenure, fair compensation payable under the law for agricultural land and improvements that have been compulsorily acquired, as well as allocations and alienations of agricultural land. Multiple farm owners who benefited from illegal allocations will lose the properties when the Land Commission Bill becomes law in due course. The law will also rattle unproductive farmers who stand to lose the land they are not fully utilising.
Government policy does not allow multiple land ownership under its one-family-one-farm framework.
Last year in February, President Mugabe revealed that around 163 farms in Mashonaland East were still in the hands of whites under unclear circumstances, and there was suspicion that top political figures were protecting them.