Parly watchdog, chiefs deadlocked over Bill

08 Jul, 2017 - 00:07 0 Views
Parly watchdog, chiefs deadlocked over Bill CHIEF CHARUMBIRA

The Herald



Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
The Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) and traditional leaders have reached a stalemate over the Land Commission Bill, as they haggle over the inclusion of chiefs in the envisaged Land Commission.The PLC, chaired by Mudzi South Member of Parliament Jonathan Samukange, issued an adverse report on the Bill in April, saying the inclusion of traditional leaders in the commission violated the Constitution.

He argued that the chiefs’ jurisdiction restricted them to communal land and did not include agricultural land.

The Land Commission is a product of the new Constitution and its responsibilities include advising Government on management of agricultural land, carrying out periodic audits and settling land disputes.

Debate on the Bill was eventually deferred last week to allow the two parties to deliberate and enable traditional leaders led by Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira to submit their case on why they felt it was imperative that they be included.

Chief Charumbira confirmed in an interview that they did not reach an agreement as the PLC remained ad- amant.

“We met with the PLC, but we have not agreed on the issue,” he said. “They are (not budging from ) their position. Our view is that they are getting it wrong. We want chiefs to be in the Land Commission.

“There has never been a Land Commission since independence that excludes traditional leaders.”

Mr Samukange was not available for comment, but a member of the PLC said they were not satisfied with the argument by the chiefs.

“The Constitution is clear that traditional leaders have no jurisdiction on agricultural land,” said the member. “We remain satisfied that their inclusion is not consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.”

Other PLC members are Zanu-PF MPs Ziyambi Ziyambi (Zvimba West) and Fortune Chasi (Mazowe South) and MDC-T MPs Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central) and Jessie Majome (Harare West).

In April, Mr Samukange told Senators that debate on the PLC Adverse Report on the Land Commission Bill be deferred to allow them to hear views from traditional leaders.

He said they would either withdraw their adverse report, amend it or stand with it upon hearing the views.

In his response during the Senate debate, Chief Charumbira said they did not agree with views by the PLC that the Constitution restricted their role to communal land to the exclusion of agricultural land.

He said it was pertinent to realise that the PLC Adverse Report was not binding, but a mere opinion that could be overturned by the House.

This was after Senate adopted amendments to the Land Commission Bill so that chiefs would be considered for appointment in the Land Com- mission.

In its report, the PLC said the management of agricultural land was solely under the Land Commission as required by the Constitution.

It said the Constitution was clear that the roles of the Land Commission and the traditional leaders did not merge.

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