New commission to audit land ownership in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government has gazetted a Land Commission Bill according to which a land commission will be established to conduct regular land ownership and land use audits on farms seized from white farmers since 2000.

New commission to audit landownership in zimbabwe

According to the Bill, the commission will carry out audits to determine the level of uptake of farms as well as their level of utilisation, while identifying persons owning more than one farm, and those leasing properties.

President Robert Mugabe, whose government led farm seizures from about 4 500 white farmers, was expected to sign the Bill into law. According to reports, the commission will aim to foster fairness, transparency and accountability in the ownership, utilisation and administration of farmland across that country.

It will also handle complaints on land ownership and make recommendations about land utilisation and the size of agricultural land holdings, while simplifying the acquisition and transfer of land rights and tenure.

The commission will further make recommendations on how the government can fairly compensate farmers who lost their properties through compulsory acquisitions.

Members will include farmers, lawyers and military veterans.

The bill was gazetted shortly after the deputy minister of agriculture, Berita Chikwana, said in a statement to parliament that the government had acquired 9,4 million hectares of farmland from white farmers.

“As of now, the following statistics are relevant to the question of land: hectarage under A1 [the villagised resettlement model] – 6 million hectares, hectarage under A2 [commercial farm resettlement model] – 3,5 million hectares,” said Chikwana.

No title deed would be issued on land previously owned by commercial farmers, only 99-year leases and permits, she said.