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New draft constitution entrenches land seizures

ZANU PF used the draft constitution to entrench its position on land reform by constitutionalising the 2000 land invasions and giving security of tenure to land occupiers under the chaotic fast-track land reforms.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

The draft, endorsed by a reported 3,1 million Zimbabweans in the referendum on March 16, seeks to put finality to the controversial land redistribution which dispossessed about 4 000 white commercial farmers of their prime land without compensation.

The draft grants resettled farmers legal authority to remain on the land as owners by virtue of having an offer letter from the state.

Section 291 of the draft says: “Continuation of rights of occupiers of agricultural land subject to this constitution, any person who, immediately before the effective date, was using or occupying, or was entitled to use or occupy, any agricultural land by virtue of a lease or other agreement with the state continues to be entitled to use or occupy that land on or after the effective date, in accordance with that lease or other agreement.”

The draft also allows resettled farmers to lease the land or sell it despite the fact that they got it for free.

Section 294 of the draft reads: “Alienation of agricultural land by owners or occupiers subject to any limitation imposed by law, an owner or occupier of agricultural land has the right to transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose of his or her right in agricultural land.”

These clauses are widely viewed as Zanu PF’s bid to constitutionally entrench and protect a process that dispossessed white farmers without compensation and left over 200 000 farm workers jobless and homeless.The draft effectively thwarts the MDC formations’ call for an independent land audit, thus legalising multiple farm ownership.

The leader of the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe, Munyaradzi Gwisai, said the draft legalises Zanu PF’s seizure and looting of farms.

“The draft constitution sanitises Zanu PF’s looting exercise as the new farmers who mostly got the land by patronage will now be able to sell it on the open market,” Gwisai said.

“The draft further eliminates the need for a land audit since the new owners would have a constitutional right to the land.”

Dispossessed white commercial farmers will only receive compensation for improvements made and not for land under the new charter.

Ironically, farm workers who lost their homes and their jobs have been ignored and will not be compensated.

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