Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Mash West land officers accused of demanding bribes

 

LAND officers in Mashonaland West are allegedly demanding bribes of up to $7 000 from people desperately in need of land.

By VENERANDA LANGA

The issue came up yesterday during a public hearing on the Land Commission Bill at Banket Sports Club, which was conducted by the Christopher Chitindi-chaired Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and the Damian Mumvuri-led Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security.

Spokesperson for the Zvimba Chieftainship Council, Ernest Chikambi, accused lands officers of allocating plots at sacred places without consulting traditional leaders.

“People were allocated land on wetlands, mountainous places, and now there is desecration of sacred places and some people are even having sex at those sacred places, while others are stealing some artefacts,” he said.

Chikambi warned that if this was not addressed, Zanu PF risked losing support.

Senator Stanley Wurayayi Mhondoro, who is Chief Zvimba, said the practice of political bigwigs allocating farms to their relatives must be stopped.

A representative from the Mashonaland West Affected Farmers Committee said the Land Commission must ensure adherence to the one-man one-farm principle.

“Those with bigger portions of land must have them reduced to create more land for serious farmers. Issues of recapitalisation of farms must be done after consultations, and we recommend fair distribution of equipment because the same bigwigs keep getting equipment,” the affected farmers’ representative said.

Simbarashe Ziyambi from the Business Council of Zimbabwe said serious farmers should benefit from the different equipment and input support programmes.

Luke Jiyasasa from the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union said corruption was being fuelled by government officials, including ministers and MPs.

“We have noticed that real farmers are not represented in the Land Commission. Its independence in the draft Bill is questionable, as commissioners seem to be subordinate to the minister. Land audits will not yield anything, as long as the economy keeps shrinking. The rich, who get the inputs, will be favoured by the audits, as they appear as productive, while poor farmers, who did not get support are adjudged unproductive,” he said.

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