THE parliamentary legal committee on the Acquisition of Farm Equipment and Materials Bill says seven clauses in the Bill are unconstitutional because, among other things, they constitute a se
rious curtailment of property rights, bringing Zimbabwe’s controversial land apportionment programme into the spotlight once again.
The committee says it is very clear that the compulsory acquisition of farm equipment and material is not intended for a purpose beneficial to the public but as retribution against farmers whose land has been acquired for resettlement as well as for the benefit of individual persons who might already have seized farm equipment and material.
Thousands of individuals including government ministers, politicians and business executives, mainly linked to the ruling Zanu PF party, have benefited from acquired farms countrywide.
The legal committee comprises MDC Bulawayo Northeast MP Welshman Ncube, MDC Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese and Zanu PF Buhera South MP and former Lands and Agriculture minister Kumbirai Kangai.
Ncube, Gonese and Kangai met on May 27 and June 3 to discuss the issues raised and then issued an adverse report.
The adverse report, which was presented to the 150-member parliament, says some of the clauses are actually in conflict with the constitution of Zimbabwe.
Parliament however on Wednesday went ahead to pass the controversial Bill despite opposition MPs storming out of the House when the issue went to the vote.
Leader of the House and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa said the committee, in its adverse report, had sought to make political, and not legal, arguments.
“The Parliamentary Legal Committee considered the Acquisition of Farm Equipment and Materials Bill (HB6 2004) (“the Bill”) within the framework of its mandate and regrets to report unanimously that Clauses 6, 7, 8, 10 and 13 are in conflict with the constitution of Zimbabwe and therefore unconstitutional,” the report said.
“The Bill, among other things, proscribes the destruction or disablement of farm equipment, and authorises the state to compulsorily acquire farm equipment and material which was used or to be used on land acquired for resettlement purposes.”
It said the constitutionality of the said provisions of the Bill must therefore be tested against various exceptions.
“In other words, can the compulsory acquisition of farm equipment or materials provided for in the Bill be said to be justified on the grounds that it is reasonably necessary for the safeguarding of the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health and town and country planning?” the committee asked.
“It is plain, Mr. Speaker Sir, that the acquisition of tractors, seed, fertilisers, pipes, etc cannot possibly be justified on the basis of public order, public safety, public morality, public health or in the interest of defence or town and country planning.”
The committee said what remained was to consider whether such acquisition could be justified on the basis that it was necessary for the utilisation of the property for a purpose beneficial to the public.