Govt flouts own laws

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT has started acquiring farms, conservancies and other properties under the Export Processing Zone Authority and those protected by government-to-government agreements, the Zimbabwe

Independent heard this week.


The move comes before parliament has approved the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill which seeks to empower the state to acquire the specialised farms. The Bill was gazetted at the end of November last year with government saying it was meant to consolidate the gains of the resettlement programme.


However, analysts have said the Bill is set to cause more confusion on the land in the form of fresh evictions and occupations.


Government last week gazetted a farm list signalling its intention to acquire blocks of the Hippo Valley Estates and Nuanetsi Ranch in south-eastern Zimbabwe. The list shows at least 20 farms used for ranching, eco-tourism and sugar production will be compulsorily acquired. Some of the targeted properties are protected by legislation, which is set to be repealed by the amendment.


Hippo Valley Estates is protected by the Hippo Valley Act that was drawn up in November 1964 between the Rhodesian government and Sir Raymond Stockil representing the company. The government, through a Crown Charter, ceded 70 872 morgen of land to Hippo Valley to develop an irrigation scheme. A Dutch morgen is about 0,85 hectares.


The government cannot under the current legal regime compulsorily acquire land owned by the company. The repealing of the Hippo Valley Act will empower the government to acquire the land including infrastructure and equipment on the farms.


The government has also started to acquire tea plantations in the Eastern Highlands and sophisticated horticultural concerns which are currently protected by legislation.