Farmers criticise draft constitution

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) yesterday criticised the draft constitution saying it does not guarantee security of tenure for land, a development they say will scare away potential investors interested in the agricultural sector.

In a statement, CFU president Charles Taffs said potential investors would “continue to adopt a cautious approach until it is clear that land can be levered as security and has a real market value”.

“We are disappointed that the parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) have missed an opportunity to provide a sound legal framework, which stimulates an enabling business environment, investor confidence and national economic recovery,” he said.

“Many questions regarding the specifics of secure tenure to agricultural land, the effectiveness of a new land commission, the limitations of the State’s powers as regards the 99-year lease and so on remain unanswered by this draft.

“Agricultural investors and financiers of agriculture will therefore continue to adopt a cautious approach until it is clear that land can be levered as security and has a real market value.

“The country is asked to accept as water under the bridge what has happened in particular regard to land and provisions seek rather to contain terms and fallout from that episode rather that chart a constructive and enabling way forward.

“The result is that investors, citizens and observers will question the desire of the State of Zimbabwe to provide a truly enabling environment for progress.”

If adopted into law, the draft seeks to protect government against paying compensation for land seized under its agrarian reforms in 2000.

Experts have blamed the country’s 2000 land reform programme for the current food shortages.
Last week, the United Nations World Food Programme said the number of people in need of direct food aid had soared by 60% from last year’s figures.

An estimated 1,6 million people are said to be facing starvation with villagers in Matabeleland, Midlands and Manicaland provinces being the worst hit.

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