INDIGENOUS farmers have called on government to speedily compensate white former commercial farmers in order to unlock agricultural funding for new players who benefited from the land reform programme.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Speaking during public hearings on the proposed Land Commission Bill which began in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union representative Jeremiah Tevera also demanded that the Land Commission must stop fresh land invasions to restore sanity in the agricultural sector.
“Issues of multiple land allocations are still happening and it rears its ugly head when farmers are preparing for the summer crop and several farmers with the same lease are fighting for land, resulting in scuttling of preparations for the next farming season,” Tevera said.
“The issue of illegal farm occupiers needs to be addressed by the commission with speed as they have led to environmental degradation and poaching,” he said.
Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe acting director Marc Carrie Wilson said the issue of security of tenure needed to be solved to instil confidence in investors, adding Parliament must scrutinise the Bill and include people’s views before its passage.
“The Bill seems to maintain the status quo in terms of land administration, but we believe the Ministry responsible should look at other countries’ land policies and how they administer land. We also want the Land Commission to be independent from the minister as they currently seem to be subordinate.”
Wilson said the Land Commission Bill was silent on how commissioners are chosen, adding there was need for impartial and qualified people to sit in the commission.
Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe president Isaiah Nyakusendwa said the Bill dealt a lot with issues of land disputes, but was silent on issues of wildlife conflicts where people were settling in wildlife areas, killing and poisoning animals, poaching fish and cutting down trees.
“The commission must ensure there are remedies to conflicts because when we talk of land, we also talk of environmental issues and mining,” Nyakusendwa said.
Last week, the Land Commission Bill went through the First Reading Stage in the National Assembly.
The purpose of the Land Commission will be to look at issues of allocation of rights to State land for agricultural purposes, settlement of persons on land, and it is also expected to solve land disputes among other issues. The public hearings are being conducted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture and the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security.