Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Government has called on the Zimbabwe Land Commission (ZLC) to be honest and transparent in discharging its duties especially in land dispute resolution.
The ZLC was created to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land and to conduct periodic land audits, investigate and determine disputes on agricultural land.
Officiating at a four-day ZLC staff inaugural induction training workshop at the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Administration and Management (ZIPAM) in Zvimba yesterday, Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora said it was the role of the commission to see that land was distributed fairly and transparently.
“While my ministry gives land to farmers, the commission plays an oversight role by making sure that land as a finite resource has been distributed fairly, equitably and in a transparent manner with due regard to the interests of minority groups and gender disparities.
“As Government winds up the distribution of land, it is now the duty of the Commission to solve the intrinsic land disputes of all manner and kind. “These disputes resulting from the re-configuration of land use and ownership retard productivity and production at the farms as farmers will spend productive time bickering, suing and counter-suing each other prejudicing the nation of food requirements at the end,” he said.
Dr Mombeshora said disputes could lead to violence, loss of life and property. He discouraged the commission from engaging in corrupt activities when resolving disputes as the public would lose confidence in the process.
“The commission should thus be evidence-based, transparent and avoid an a priori approach, but rather practice independence when handling the disputes and in the discharge of duties. I am advised that the commission has a zero tolerance to corruption. This corporate governance guideline should not be plainly theoretical, but rather should be put into practice for the commission to meet its vision of being a centre of excellence,” he said.
ZLC chairperson, Commissioner Tendai Bare, said the workshop was meant to capacitate staff into leaders and give them an opportunity to familiarise with values, norms and performance standards expected in the commission.
“The constitution calls for us to demonstrate transparency, fairness and accountability when discharging our duties,” she said. She said the training would equip the commission to become multi skilled and to gather evidence in a professional manner.
“The training should ensure that as the commission interacts with farmers, they do so courteously and with the sensitivity that goes with some of the issues relating to disputes being resolved.
“We want them to be able to communicate clearly to farmers what they will be doing and be able to coordinate and collaborate with other agencies. The commission should be innovative, faster better and smarter to assist us deliver our mandate. We do not want people who are corrupt, but people who work with integrity,” she said.