Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Traditional leaders cannot be part of the Land Commission because their role is restricted to communal lands as defined in the Constitution, the Parliamentary Legal Committee has said.
The PLC said this in an adverse report presented by its chairperson Cde Jonathan Samukange in the Senate yesterday.
Two weeks ago, the Senate adopted amendments to the Land Commission Bill so that chiefs would be considered for appointment in the Land Commission, with the same number being among a panel envisaged in the proposed law to deal with land disputes.
The proposed amendments were shot down.
“The Constitution clearly iterates the jurisdiction of traditional leaders in particular section 282 (1) (d) states: ‘’Traditional leaders have the following functions within their areas of jurisdiction in accordance with an Act of Parliament, to administer communal land and to protect the environment,” Cde Samukange said.
He added: “Section 282 (2) of the Constitution states: ‘Except, as provided in an Act of Parliament, traditional leaders have authority, jurisdiction and control over communal land or other areas for which they have been appointed and over persons within those communal lands or areas.”
Cde Samukange said the management of agricultural land was solely under the Land Commission as required by the Constitution.
“Section 297 (1) (a) of the Constitution states that, the Zimbabwe Land Commission must ensure accountability fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land that is vested in State . . .”, he said.
Cde Samukange said the Constitution was clear that the roles of the Land Commission and the traditional leaders could not interact.
“Having considered the above provisions of the Constitution, the Committee was of the opinion that the amendments proposed to the Land Commission Bill were ultra vires the Constitution,” he said.
“The roles of the Land Commission are patently clear as are the roles of traditional leaders and the two are not expected to interact.
“The Commission has jurisdiction over agricultural land, while traditional leaders have authority, jurisdiction and control over communal land or other areas for which they have been appointed noting that the definition of agricultural land in section 72 excludes communal land.”
Debate on the Bill was adjourned to today to allow the Senators to consult on the way forward.
The Land Commission is a product of the Constitution adopted in 2013 and its responsibilities include advising Government on management of agricultural land, carrying out periodic audits and settling land disputes.