Traditional leaders and Ministers of state for provincial affairs and devolution gathered in Bulawayo from 3 – 4 March 20221 to review and give feedback on the draft national comprehensive and gender sensitive land policy framework.
The draft framework was developed by the Government of Zimbabwe with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development.
Judith Ncube, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, in her welcoming remarks noted the importance of land as a fundamental component of life, heritage, and a source of livelihoods.
The Minister highlighted that, the 1990 National Land Policy had provided good guidance, but in light of changes ensuing from the Fast Track Land Reform Programme, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, technological advancements and the increased demand for land for urbanisation, mining and energy production among others, the government decided to work on a National Comprehensive and Gender Sensitive Land Policy.
“FAO guided by the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) is providing technical support through its multidisciplinary teams at national, sub-regional, regional and headquarters level to the Government of Zimbabwe to develop a land policy framework that will give reasonable clarity, consistency and certainty necessary to provide the confidence for promotion of the social and economic transformation of Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income status by 2030,” said Patrice Talla Takoukam, Sub Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative for Zimbabwe.
Patrice also highlighted that the policy review meetings in Bulawayo provided an opportunity for Traditional Leaders and Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs to speak about the land and property rights challenges they experience in their respective communities. Their views were being shared following presentation of the Draft Policy framework informed by the multi-stakeholder provincial consultative meetings, where some of the Traditional Leaders and Provincial Ministers of State for Devolution participated.
Speaking during the same meeting, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Land Commission, Commissioner Tendai Ruth Bare highlighted that, “the Fast track Land Reform programme brought about many changes, which the National Land Policy should address,” adding that “the policy should be futuristic, gender and youth sensitive, and provide for posterity, that is, reserving land for the future generations.”
Overall, traditional leaders and the provincial ministers agreed that, there is need to reach consensus on concurrent roles of Ministers of State, Traditional leaders, and the Zimbabwe Land Commission consistent with the constitutional imperatives and the national development ambitions of citizens.
The two stakeholders also raised a number of issues that needed to be addressed and clarified in the second draft of the national land policy framework.
Concerns raised by the Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution:
- Need to align the land policy framework with international best practices in land administration and management
- Provincial and District Redistribution Land Committees should remain in place as it is in line with the devolution agenda.
- Need to address gender issues and provide land to vulnerable groups for social protection and livelihoods development.
- Need to have a national land use plan that assigns what is done where…
- Consider application of technology & ICTs in land administration and management.
Concerns by the Traditional Leaders
- The Draft policy is life and death of chieftainship (traditional leadership)
- The review process is an opportunity to shape the future of land admin in Zimbabwe
- There is need to recognize Traditional leaders on all land matters as custodians of the land “including allocation”
- There is need for a pillar on cultural rights and heritage as it relates to land policy
- The policy should highlight the role of traditional leaders in ensuring food and nutrition security (Zunde raMambo) and local/ territorial food systems.
The stakeholders also acknowledged the efforts made in drafting the land policy and they hinted that the process as before should remain, open, inclusive and participatory, taking on board issues being raised by all stakeholders.
Standing in for the Minister for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro acknowledged submissions by the Traditional Leaders and the Ministers of State and assured that the inputs will be in cooperated into the Draft National and Comprehensive Gender Sensitive land policy framework. He added that that the process remains open and participatory.
The Acting Permanent Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Surveyor General Edward Guvaza, appreciated the earnest effort and unity of purpose exhibited throughout the review meetings. In what he termed, “days filled with so much discussion and exchange towards an all-encompassing National land Policy in Zimbabwe”.
Citing Henry Ford, Guvaza stated that the land policy consultative meetings would continuously see the different stakeholders working together until there is a substantive working document.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Our coming together here has shown our willingness to work together. Individually, we are a drop and together we are an ocean.” Guvaza