EDUCATION minister David Coltart has dismissed the Copac-led draft constitution as racist, arguing the clause on land perpetuated racial discrimination.
Report by Pamela Mhlanga
Addressing residents during the MDC referendum publicity campaign meeting at Barham Green Hall in Bulawayo on Saturday, Coltart said the land provision discouraged foreign investors from doing business in Zimbabwe due to its “racist connotations”.
“According to the draft constitution, the clause on agricultural land in Section 288 that says all citizens, regardless of race, have a right to hold, occupy, use or dispose of agricultural land is well put and good, but the problem comes in Section 72 of the constitution,” he said.
Section 72 of the draft on the rights to agricultural land states that no compensation was payable in respect of the acquisition of land except for improvements, unless the agricultural land was acquired from an indigenous Zimbabwean.
It also states that with regard to the compulsory acquisition of agricultural land for resettlement, Zimbabweans were unjustifiably dispossessed of their land during colonialism, that they took up arms in order to regain their land and thus they must be enabled to reassert their rights and regain ownership of their land.
“The former colonial power, not the government of Zimbabwe, has an obligation to pay compensation for agricultural land compulsorily acquired for resettlement of people. This is a very unfortunate provision because any person of any race who wants to invest in the country is not given an opportunity to do so. It affects our ability for farming investment and deters foreign investors from investing in the country,” Coltart said.
He said the land tenure system was “unjust and unsustainable” as it was going to create a huge burden to Zimbabwe’s economy.
The Zanu PF-led government launched the fast track resettlement programme in 2000 ostensibly to address land ownership imbalances that were skewed in favour of minority whites.
At the time the resettlement programme was introduced, an estimated 4 500 white commercial farmers held 75% of prime agricultural land.
But some critics have disputed benefits derived from the land reform arguing that it had reduced the country from the region’s breadbasket to a basket case.