Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe


Date Chart of Land Policy and Legislation

The Parliament of Zimbabwe

Hansard – 12 March 1992

Mr. KAPARADZA :Mr. Speaker, I feel highly honoured to second this First Interim Report of the select Committee on the Indigenisation of the National Economy. In doing so, your Committee travelled to all provinces and observations reflected that the people feel that Zimbabweans may forgive but they will not forget. Mr. Speaker, in that respect, I would like to recap and recall hon. members to note that land is one of the most important ingredients of the factors of production among capital, labour and entrepreneurship, bears an economic base. It bears an economic base on the basis that you can utilise agricultural land for purposes of increasing our economy. It bears an economic base for we can exploit our mineral resources and other natural resources. Land can also provide a social base. We can build our own houses on land set aside by local authorities. We can perform all activities under recreational facilities and indeed Mr. Speaker, land also possesses a political base.

Subsequent regimes have administered this country in a manner consistent to the objectives they thought operational during that period. I would like to submit Mr. Speaker, that my presentation in the form of a date chart of land policy and legislation and eventually into agricultural land production does not really need an expert or historian, but a simple politician and indeed a legislator.

It is with this in mind Mr. Speaker, that I would like for a matter of detail want to present a detailed chart of land policy and legislation in Zimbabwe or members publication in the Hansard and also for the press and the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement. I hereby lay a copy for the Hansard. 


1882       Land and Arbitration Causes Ordinance passed by Cape Legislature: provided for compulsory acquisitionof land by public authorities and compulsory arbitration of compensation disputes.  In force in Southern Rhodesia from 1891 to 1971 and incorporated in most titled deeds with reference to the method of resumption of ownership by the State of Land for public purposes. 

1888       Rudd Concession obtained from Lobengula purports to grant the cessionary all mineral rights between the                Zambesi and Limpopo Rivers. 

1889       British South Africa Company incorporated by Royal Charter on the strength of the Rudd Concession. 

1890       BSAC’s Mining Regulations allows settlers to  peg out farms of up to 3 000 acres. 

1891       Lippert Concession from Lobengula purports to grant the cessionary the right to appropriate and grant for                farms and townships: purchased by Cecil Rhodes on behalf of the British South Africa Company. High Commissioner’s Proclamation of 10th June required that all the land grants be approved by the British-appointed High Commissioner. 

1891-23 “Moodie Trek” into Melsetter District: settlers permitted to peg out farms of 6 350 acres each. 1893       Conquest of Matabeleland by British South Africa Company: “Victoria Agreement” between Company Administrator and 672 members of the invading force permits the latter to peg out farms of 6 350 acres each for free in Matabeleland. 

1894       Matabeleland Order-in-Council establishes a “Land Commission” which confirms the settlers in their possession of the land seized in Matabeleland.                 BSAC imposes “Hut Tax” on all African farmers, compelling many to seek work in mines and European farms. 

1895       First setting aside of “native” reserves in Gwaai and Shangani (c 2 500 000 acres). 

1898       Order-in-Council obliges BSAC “from time to time” to set aside “sufficient” land for African occupation; permitted Africans to hold, acquire, encumb and dispose of land on the same conditions as Europeans. 

1902       Order-in-Council sets aside c 25 5000 000 acres for African occupation. 

1908       Legislative Council passes “Private Locations Ordinance” at the behest of the BSAC: restricts the leasing of land to Africans on European farms (49 adults per 3 000 acres, subject to the licence the “Native Commissioner”). 

1915       Imperial Government appoints the “Native Reserves Commission”, which recommended that certain lands be set aside for sole and exclusive occupation by Africans. 

1917       “Rider Haggard” land settlement scheme: BSAC sets aside 500 000 acres for 70 settlers of “good class” form the UK. 

1918       Privy Council determines the question of the ownership of unalienated land in Southern Rhodesia: Crown declared to be the rightful owners of the land instead of the BSAC; Lippert Concession declared invalid; African claim to ownership in the land rejected (reported in re Southern Rhodesia (1919) AC211). 

1920       Order-in-Council implements recommendations of the “Native Reserves Commission”: repeals Order-in-Council of 1902 and sets aside 20 000 000 acres of surveyed land for Africans; re-affirms Africans equal rights to acquire land outside reserves.

1922       Self-Government Constitution for Southern Rhodesia provides for equal rights of Africans and Europeans to acquire land outside the Reserves (Article 43). 

1924       Land and Agricultural Bank established to provide credit to European farmers. 

1926       Morris Carter Commission recommends the segregation of land tenure between the races. 

1930       Article 43 of the Constitution is abrogated. 

1931       Land Apportionment Act comes into effect (1st April) establishes segregated tenure and abolishes right of Africans to acquire land in European areas.  Divides land into:-                                

 “European” Area                                 (449 136 419 acres)                               

“Native Reserves”                                 (21 127 040 acres)                              

  “Native Purchase Areas”  (designated to compensate for  loss of right by Africans to acquire land anywhere in the  colony)                                            (7 482 163 acres)                               

 Unassigned Area                                     (17 793 300 acres)                               

Forest Area                                                   (590 500 acres)                               

Undetermined Area                                       (83 698 acres)                

The Act further stipulates all rent paying agreements by Africans on European farms should cease by 1937. 

1933       Government declares a 3 year moratorium on instalment payments by undebted European farmers. 

1934       Maize Control Amendment Act favours European maize producers as against African competitors. 

1936       Land Apportionment Amendment Act extends the deadline for termination of African leases on European farms to 1941. 

1941       New Land Apportionment Act redivides land as follows:-                                

 “European” Area                                    (48 392 912 acres)                               

“Native Reserves”                                  (21 127 040 acres)                               

“Native Purchase Areas”                        (7 859 942 acres)                               

Unassigned Area                                     (17 780 918 acres)                               

 Forest Area                                                   (987 745 acres)                               

 Undetermined Area                                       (62 563 acres) 

1944       Land Settlement Act makes provision for “ex-servicemen’s settlement schemes”.

 1947       New Land Bank Act replaces the Land and Agricultural Bank and specifically excludes assistance to farmers in “Native Reserves” or to farmers holding land under lease or hire-purchase terms. 

1950       Land Apportionment Amendment Act proposes “final disposition of land: 610 908 acres transferred from the “European” Area to a “Special Native Area”. 

1951       Land Husbandry Act attempts to subdivide “Native Reserves” into individual smallholdings. 

1952       Land Settlement Schemes for “males of pure European descent”and “males of coloured descent” published in the Gazette. 

1957       Rhodesian Wattle Company v Taziwa and Others: held that traditional rights of occupation of land of no avail in “European” area.

1958       Land Settlement Scheme for members of the Far East Volunteer Unit of pure European descent published in the Gazette. 

1960       Commission of Inquiry appointed by the United Federal Party Government of Sir Edgar Whitehead proposes the abolition of the Land Apportionment Act and the scrapping of economic protectionism of European farmers. 

1961       New Constitution reserves 40 000 000 acres for exclusive African use.                 “Native Reserves” renamed “Tribal Trust Lands”; new category of “Unreserved Land”. open to purchase by all races, created (55 million acres of unalienated land mostly from the “European” area); farmers in “Native Purchase Area” and “European” area given the option to recategorise their land as “Unreserved”. 

1962       Rhodesian Front wins elections on the platform of preserving land segregation. 

1963       Rural Land Act abolishes “Unreserved Land” category; repeals Land Settlement Act and establishes Rural Land Board to manage leases for the purchase of land in the “European” and “Native Purchase” Areas. 

1965       Tribal Trust Land Act repeals Land Husbandry Act and restores to chiefs the power to allocate land in the Tribal Trust Lands.

1966       Agricultural Assistance Act set up to assist bankrupt European farmers. 

1968       “Young Rhodesians” Land Settlement Scheme published in Gazette.                 New Act establishes the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR) the Board of the Corporation is empowered to lease land and grant freehold title in Tribal Trust Lands. 

1969       Land Tenure Act. 

“European” Area 44 948 300 acres from (35,7 million acres in 1968)                                                

“African” area     44 949 100 acres                                               

National Area         6 617 400 acres                

New Constitution purports to entrench permanently the racial segregation of land tenure.                 Agricultural Land Settlement Act excises issues relating to land settlement from the Rural Land Act and assumed responsibilities for all leases with options to purchase (5 736 leases in the “African Purchase Area” and 641 leases in the “European Area”); thereafter issue of leases with option to purchase unalienated “European” Land speeded up. 

1971       Land Acquisition Act repeals the Lands and Arbitration Clauses Act and excludes resumption of ownership by the State under title deeds permitting such resumption “for Government or public purposes” (a condition to which almost every title deed was subject); establishes Compensation Court; fixes standard of compensation as the market value applicable between a willing buyer and a willing seller immediately prior to the acquisition.                 Agricultural Finance Corporation replaces the Land Bank.                 Agricultural Development Authority Act establishes an authority to oversee the development of agriculture outside the Tribal Trust Lands; the board of the Authority acts also as the board under the Agricultural Land Settlement Act and as the board of the Sabi Limpopo Authority. 

1973       Agricultural Land Settlement Amendment Act; administration of African Purchase Land leases assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs; separate Land Settlement Boards established for “European” and “African Purchase” Areas, the former appointed by the Minister of Lands, the latter by the Minister of Internal Affairs.

1976       Quent Commission of Inquiry into Racial Discrimination (appointed 1975) recommends the abolition of the Land Tenure Act. 

1977       Land Tenure Amendment Act opens all land except Tribal Trust Lands and 290 000 hectares of urban land in the “European” Area to occupation and purchase by all races. 

1978       Agricultural Devlopment Act renames the ADA as the “Agricultural and Rural Development Authority” (ARDA); its board now also acts as the board for TILCOR. 

1979       The “Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia” restricts compulsory acquisition of land for resettlement purposes to land not “substantially” used for agriculture in the 5 years preceding the acquisition, and requires that the highest market value for such land in that period be paid as compensation.                

 New Land Acquisition Act passed to reflect Constitutional provisions; resumption by the State under title deed conditions again prohibited. 

1980       Independence Constitution permits compulsory acquisition of “underutilized land” for agricultural resettlement and requires “prompt and adequate” compensation.                

Land Tenure at independence: 15,5 million hectares “commercial” (former European) area; 1,4 million hectares “small scale commercial” (former Purchase) area; 16,4 million hectares Tribal Trust Lands. 

1981       3 year Transitional National Development Plan declares Government’s intention to resettle 162 000 families. 

1982       ARDA assumes the assets and functions of TILCOR and expands the role of the State in farming operations (total hectarage acquired by ARDA by 1989 : 500 000 hectares).                

Tribal Trust Lands renamed Communal Lands. 

1985       New Land Acquisition Act reserves “right of first refusal” to the State and permits it to acquire land compulsory under resumption clauses in title deeds.               

  2,7 million hectares acquired by the State, 52 000 families resettled. 

1990       (July 25th): Government’s National Land Policy spelt out in Parliament; target of 5 million hectares set for acquisition of land in the large scale commercial sector.                

 (FACTORS OF PRODUCTIONS)               

 LAND -      one of the most important ingredient of the factors of production among, capital, labour and                     entrepreneur -         

 Economic base pastoral grazing, agricultural tillage, forestry, mineral resources, water and other natural resources. -           

Social Base – where man build accommodation, reform recreational activities, et cetera. -          J

udicial means of administering governments and co-ordination production of goods and services. -         

Judicial means of acquiring ownership.  


The date chart of land policy and legislation in Zimbabwe relate how land was usurped from the Bantu or indigenous occupants by foreign settlers and appear consistent, systematic and segregative or racialist in the legislation and administration, there from and refer to the date chart and key areas are. 

1.       In 1893 – Victoria Agreement authorized the BSAC invaders numbering 672 to peg 6 350 acres each on the Matabeleland. 

2.       In 1902 – Order in Council did set aside 25 500 000 acres for the “native reserves”, 21 000 000 acres was allocated after the 1919 Native Reserve Commission Report. 

3.       Land Apportionment Act of 1st April, 1931, divided land as there under and established segregated tenure.                

49 136 419 acres                 European               

 21 127 040 acres                 Native Reserves                 

7 482 163 acres                 Native Purchase Areas               

17 793 300 acres                 Unassigned Areas                      

83 698 acres                  Undetermined Area               

95 632 620 acres 


 Redivided land as follows:                

 48 392 912 acres                 European Area               

21 127 040 acres                 Native Reserves                 

7 859 942 acres                 Native Purchase Area               

17 780 918 acres                 Unassigned Area                    

987 745 acres                  Forest Area                       

62 563acres                  Undetermined Area               

96 211 120 acres 

5.       The 1961 New Constitution reserved 40 000 000 acres for exclusive African use. 

6.       The 1969 Land Tenure Act redivided Land as follows: 

44 948 300 acres                 European Area

44 949 100 acres                 African Area 

6 617 400 acres                 National Area

96 514 800 acres 

7.       The 1979 – New Land Acquisition reflected constitutional provisions, et cetera. 

8.       Zimbabwe Independence Constitution of 1980 revealed land tenure as follows: 

15 500 000 hectares           European (Commercial) 

1 400 000 hectares            African purchase (Native Purchase Area)

16 400 000 hectares           Tribal Trust Land (Native Reserves)

33 300 000 hectares of Agricultural land. 

9.       The 1989 Land Tenure revealed the following: 

16 355 000 hectares           Communal (Native Reserves)

11 270 000 hectares           Large Scale Commercial (European) 

1 400 000 hectares            Small Scale Commercial (Native Purchase area) 

3 090 000 hectares            Resettlement  

884 000 hectares              ADA/State Farms/Co-operatives

4 900 000 hectares              National Parks/Wild Life Areas  

 977 000 hectares              Forest Areas  

196 000 hectares              Urban Land                          

39 072 000 hectares

10.    Government National Land Policy would target five million hectares towards resettlement.  The land tenure would be as follows:              

16 355 000 hectares              Communal (Native Reserves)                 

6 270 000 hectares             Large Scale Commercial Area (European)                 

1 400 000 hectares             Small Scale Commercial (Native Purchase area)                 

8 090 000 hectares             Resettlement                   

884 000 hectares             National Parks/Wild Life Areas                   

 977 000 hectares             Forest Areas                   

196 000 hectares             Urban Land            

39 072 000 hectares               

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