Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Plea for independent land commission

MDC wants independent land commission

by Lizwe Sebatha Wednesday 28 April 2010

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party has called for the setting up of an independent commission to tackle the country’s divisive land question.

The MDC, which last year formed a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF, said a land and environment commission established by an Act of Parliament should implement fresh and equitable land reforms meant to “ensure there is non-discriminatory access to the country’s natural resources and environmental sites by the people of Zimbabwe”.

Tsvangirai’s party that has clashed with ZANU PF over key policies including a proposed black economic empowerment scheme said the commission should comprise five to seven people appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate.

The commission’s key functions would be to “uphold the principles of equitable, transparent and justifiable distribution of land (and) to advise the government and Parliament on all issues relating to the tenure,
distribution and use of land and to ensure the orderly development and management of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations,” the MDC said, in a position paper shown to ZimOnline on

Land remains a divisive issue in Zimbabwe after Mugabe over the past decade drove most of the country’s about 4 500 large-scale white landowners off their farms which he went on to parcel out to blacks in a chaotic and often violent land reform programme that destroyed commercial agriculture to leave the country facing food shortages.

In addition critics say Mugabe’s cronies – and not ordinary black peasants – benefited the most from the land reforms with many ending up with up to six farms each against the government’s publicly stated one-man-one-farm policy.

Mugabe has admitted mistakes in his land reforms but has often rejected calls especially by the MDC for a review of the land redistribution programme saying those behind the calls want to return expropriated farms to
their white former owners.

The 2008 political agreement between the MDC and ZANU PF that led to formation of the Harare power-sharing government calls for a land audit to establish who owns which land in Zimbabwe in order to eliminate multiple land owners.

But the audit has failed to take off because of a shortage of funds and resistance from senior ZANU PF officials who are multiple farm owners.

ZANU PF hardliners and members of the pro-Mugabe security forces have also continued seizing more land from the few remaining white farmers in breach of the inter-party political agreement as well as a ruling by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal that called for an end to farm seizures.

Mugabe, who wields the most power in the unity government with Tsvangirai, has said Zimbabwe will not abide by the Tribunal ruling despite Harare being required to do so under the SADC Treaty.

In an apparent attempt to depoliticise the land question, the MDC said an independent commission would be given powers to administer legislation pertaining to land.

The commission would also be tasked to: “Restore or to ensure transparency, equity and fairness in land acquisition and resettlement procedures . . . examine legislation and make recommendations to the government and Parliament for a national policy on the tenure, acquisition, use and distribution of land with a view to developing an open and equitable policy.” – ZimOnline


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