Chiefs reject proposed land policy

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
TRADITIONAL leaders have rejected the proposed land policy saying it does not reflect the country’s cultural values as it sidelines chiefs who are the custodians of the land.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development is drafting a land policy to inform how land is managed in the country.

The National Comprehensive Gender Sensitive Land Policy is guided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and will be aligned with the African Union Framework Agenda 2063 and guidelines on land policy in Africa.

A draft document has been produced which is being presented to various stakeholders including chiefs, government departments among other players.

Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ministers on Thursday raised a red flag on the same document, saying it needs to be revisited before adoption.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development yesterday held a feedback workshop with the National Council of Chiefs on the proposed draft policy document in Bulawayo.

The chiefs deliberated on the document during a closed-door session but they ended up making their meeting public as they denounced the draft policy document.

Led by the National Council of Chiefs president, Chief Fortune Charumbira, traditional leaders said the policy document was divorced from realities on the ground.

Chief Charumbira said traditional leaders were not consulted.

“This document as a policy document does not address important issues. First of all, it lacks from the very beginning where it is derived from, what are the drivers of the policy, what are the motivations behind the policy.

The land policy must be informed by where we come from. Land tenure policy issues in this country have a lot of confusion as a result of a colonial legacy and we want to correct that confusion,” said Chief Charumbira.

“We are still emotionally affected by what happened to our forefathers, how we were moved by force from various parts of this country.

Some were moved in the distance of 20km, some 100km some even 200km all in the name of land policy. We feel that as representatives of other chiefs, we do not want to betray those who are not in this room.”

He said in crafting the land policy there is a need to consult the National Council of Chiefs.

Chief Charumbira said the land policy gives power to officials from the Ministry of Lands to preside over land disputes but due to their political nature, they will be unable to deal with the matters.

He dismissed an assertion made in the draft policy document that members of the public do not trust traditional leaders.

“In fact, the truth which is researched in Zimbabwe and found in the Constitution Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) reports when we did the outreach in the process of coming up with the current Constitution, we went out to communities asking people on what should be included in the constitution,” he said.

“On land, it was overwhelming, the people said they want traditional leaders to allocate, administer and take custody of the land. That is what the people of Zimbabwe said. So, when the policy comes and contradicts the Constitution, we ask if this is a policy for Zimbabwe or a policy for people from elsewhere.”

He called for further consultations before the adoption of the policy.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro noted the chiefs’ concerns saying their views will be respected in drafting the policy document.

“If the document is not accepted now, imagine how it is going to be treated in the few years to come. More consultations need to be done and I will concur with the president of the National Council of Chiefs that this is not time to be arguing hence we need to consult further,” said Deputy Minister Karoro.–@nqotshili

Article Source: The Chronicle

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