Parliamentary portfolio committee urges govt to disband Lands ministry

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THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture has recommended the disbandment of the Lands ministry and relegate it to a department in the Agriculture ministry to cut down on costs and avoid duplication of roles.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The call was made by committee chairperson, Christopher Chitindi, while debating the 2017 budgetary allocation to the Lands ministry.

“The committee recommends that the ministry of Lands should be disbanded and placed as a department under the ministry of Agriculture and the rural component under the ministry of Local Government and this should be effected once the Land Commission is legally constituted.

“The committee noted that there is duplication of work between the Zimbabwe Land Commission and the ministry of Lands,” the committee report said.

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Some of the observations by the committee were that there was a target to issue out 13 140 security of tenure documents to new farmers by 2019, but by 2016 the ministry had only processed 99-year leases for 138 A1 farmers.

The Lands ministry was allocated $7,6 million in the 2017 National Budget and the Land Commission is still to be operational, although it was allocated a budget of $200 000.

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“The committee raised concerns that the Land Commission should only receive funding from Treasury after enactment of an enabling law to set it up.

Other recommendations by the committee were that, in the meantime, land redistribution must be halted until the Land Commission is well established to conduct its audits.

“The committee noted that there will be duplication of work between the Land Commission and the ministry of Lands.

There is a slow process in the issuance of 99-year leases to farmers. There is no clear mechanism regarding how the Land Development Levy should be shared between the ministry and the commission,” the committee report said.

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In 2016, some of the achievements listed under the ministry of Lands were acquiring 51 205 hectares of land, fully compensating 12 farmers, producing 135 survey diagrams, reaffirmation of the 140 kilometre Zimbabwe-Botswana boundary, and producing 98 user-specific maps.

Source: Parliamentary portfolio committee urges govt to disband Lands ministry – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 1, 2017

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