via Plans to set up Land Commission a gear up | The Herald September 2, 2015
PLANS by Government to set up a Land Commission have reached an advanced stage amid indications the Cabinet Committee on Legislation is working on a Land Commission Bill soon to be tabled before Parliament. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora told The Herald yesterday the commission would be appointed once the Bill is passed into law.
A number of anomalies have dogged the land reform programme since 2000, chief among them double farm allocations. “The land audit is going to be carried out by the Land Commission. The Land Commission Bill that we have drafted has to go through Parliament,” said the Minister. “Currently it (Land Commission Bill) is before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and then it will go to Parliament. The commission will be appointed by the President with some recommendations from the Minister and it will comprise five to nine people but we are yet to finalise that,” he said.
“You know there is pressure in the drafting department as a result of a number of laws that have to be aligned to the Constitution. But they are working tirelessly to make sure the Bill is tabled before Parliament soon,” said Minister Mombeshora. He said other logistical things were already in place for the audit to take off.
Minister Mombeshora said the audit might start early next year. “We are not just sitting but we are working on other logistical issues,” he said. “I can confirm that we have secured vehicles, computers and drafted questionnaires to use during the audit, which are the most expensive things required for this exercise.”
Although he did not reveal the actual cost of the audit, Minister Momeshora said they had enough money for the exercise. “We have land rentals that we are going to collect and we have since said that part of the collections will go towards this audit,” he said. Indications were that Government had received an additional $7 million from the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to finance part of the programme.
Speaking at the 21st February Movement celebrations in Victoria Falls in February, President Mugabe said Mashonaland East was still housing the largest number of white farmers who were being protected by former Zanu-PF provincial chair Mr Ray Kaukonde. He said this was denying other deserving Zimbabweans an opportunity to own land.
Government last conducted a land audit in 2000 led by former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Charles Utete. It recommended that the National Land Board be empowered to ensure that land allocated to the people was fully utilised. The Utete Report further recommended that failure over a defined period to use the land productively, especially with regard to the A2 model, should result in cancellation of leases and the land being re-allocated to those with the capacity to farm.