LANDS and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary, Grace Tsitsi Mutandiro, has filed an opposing affidavit in a matter in which a provincial weekly newspaper, Masvingo Mirror, is seeking an order compelling Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora to name the 213 people, who were allocated sugarcane plots in Chiredzi.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The newspaper claims that it is in the interest of the public to know the details of the beneficiaries in the lucrative sugarcane plantations in the Lowveld.
The Zanu PF government has been accused of partisan distribution of land.
The Masvingo Mirror claimed after numerous attempts to get the information, the responsible authorities refused to divulge the details of the beneficiaries.
However, in her opposing affidavit, Mutandiro said the application was misplaced.
“It is undoubtedly, therefore, not in the interests of public accountability to give the applicant the information they require. It is common cause that every Zimbabwean citizen has a right in terms of section 289(b) of the Constitution to acquire, hold, occupy, use, transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose agricultural land regardless of his or her race or colour,” the affidavit read.
“Applicant’s allegation, therefore, that the land in question was given to top government officials, their relatives and children is ill-founded and of no merit, as any person has a right to land.”
Mutandiro said the details will not be disclosed because doing so would infringe the third party’s rights to privacy.
“The right to access to information is not absolute, section 62(4) imposes limitations on the said right and one such limitation is in the interest of professional confidentiality. The section further states that the restriction must be fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable in a democratic society.”