By Farirai Machivenyika
The Land Commission Bill was yesterday read for the second time in Senate, with president of the Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira indicating that traditional leaders wanted the Bill amended to reflect their role in the management of agricultural land.The Bill provides for the functions of the Zimbabwe Land Commission created by section 296 of the Constitution. President Mugabe appointed the nine-member Land Commission chaired by Commissioner Tendai Bare last year and will carry out periodic land audits, investigate land disputes among other functions.
“When we looked at the Bill, we discovered that the chiefs are not represented in the Commission, yet they are the custodians of the land.
“They are the ones who are dealing with land disputes in their respective jurisdictions but they are not represented in the Bill,” Chief Charumbira said.
He added that they were consulting legal practitioners on the amendments they seek to bring when the Bill reaches the committee stage. Chief Ntabeni of Midlands echoed similar sentiments, saying the traditional leaders had an important role to play in the commission.
“This is a good Bill, but as chiefs, we feel the people are not represented because their chiefs are not included in the Land Commission. All the problems faced in the various communities, they come to us the chiefs. So, we feel we should also be involved in the commission,” Chief Ntabeni said.
Senator Flora Buka said she was happy that the commission appointed by President Mugabe last year reflected gender parity.
“I commend the President for affording equal opportunities to men and women as women play an important role on the farms. I however, also feel that the chiefs should also have been involved in the commission and not to leave it all to technical people,” she said.
Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora told the Senators that the main thrust of the Bill was to operationalise the Land Commission.
“The Land Commission was created by the new Constitution and what we are doing here is to operationalise those provisions of the Constitution as stated in Section 296,” he said.
Minister Mombeshora said Government recognised the role played by chiefs in the land reform, that is why they were represented at district and provincial land committees that dealt with the allocation of land.
He added that he would consider the proposed amendments by the chiefs when they bring them to the House.
“We are in agreement with the chiefs, but all we are saying is that their amendments should not contradict the Constitution. “So, we wait for them to bring their proposals and our experts will look into them,” Minister Mombeshora said.
Other members of the commission include Mr Tadious Muzoroza (deputy chairperson) and Retired Major Abdul Nyathi, Ms Jeanatte Manjengwa, Ms Judith Buzuzi, Mr Emmanuel Nyamusa, Ms Margaret Chingamora, Mr Edmore Ndudzo and Mr Luke Buka.