Godfrey Marawanyika/Itai Mushekwe
FARMERS’ organisations have warned that the proposed constitutional amendments on land if passed into law will result in land being owned along party lines rather than the c
apability to produce.
Justice for Agriculture (JAG) voiced its concerns at a parliamentary hearing yesterday.
JAG Trust chairman, John Worswick, told the parliamentary hearing that the 17th amendment would allow government to nationalise all farmland, making it lose its market value.
“If the amendment passes, land in Zimbabwe will be owned on the basis of patronage and not one’s productiveness or ingenuity,” Worswick said.
“While China has accepted the need for individual property rights, Zimbabwe is moving completely in the opposite direction,” he said.
Worswick said land the world over was not owned by the state but by individuals and companies with leases and title deeds, which gives the land market value.
A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) representative, Mike Clark, said although they were not opposed to land reform, they were concerned that Section B of the Bill undermines property rights and the rule of law in the country.
“As soon as the section is effected into law all the land in Zimbabwe will become state land,” Clark said.
“We are worried about the powers vested in the minister which are unprecedented. The amendment fails to clearly define what agricultural land is and where one draws the line in terms of acres which constitute agricultural land.”
Since 2000, the government has been failing to come up with a final position on the land redistribution process. The haphazard land reform resulted in severe food shortages, forcing the country to resort to imports.
It is estimated that at least 3,3 million Zimbabweans are in dire need of food aid, which is now mostly being availed through the World Food Programme.
The food donations are contrary to public statements by Agriculture minister Joseph Made who last year insisted the country had enough food stocks.
Earlier this year central bank governor Gideon Gono was forced to revise the initial economic growth projections from 3-5% to 2% by year-end.
Ruling party Secretary for Information Nathan Shamuyarira said government would divert funds from public investments to pay for food imports.
Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the amendment presents the judiciary, legislators, legal fraternity and ordinary people with their greatest challenge yet.
She said the amendments impose fiscal obligations on the state, adding that the move is contrary to the African Charter which guarantees fundamental human rights which the state seeks to remove.
“The Bill usurps the powers of the judiciary and constitution which many Zimbabweans depend on for protection from unchecked state actions,” she said.
“Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights strongly rejects the Amendment Bill and intends to challenge this dangerous and oppressive law.”