Bindura: Hala Select Kimberly Hotel hosted the first multi-stakeholder provincial consultative meeting on Wednesday (25/11), as the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) prepares to finalize a comprehensive National Gender Sensitive Land Policy.
The consultative meetings which will run until January 2021, are being held by the Government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The whole consultation process is guided by the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT).
Over the past decades, the 1990 National Land policy has served as a bedrock to the land tenure system in Zimbabwe, however, in light of significant changes to the landownership structure and production patterns principally from the Fast Track Land Reform, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, technological advances, increased demand of land for urbanisation, mining and energy production, the GoZ was compelled to adopt a Gender Sensitive National Land Policy.
With support from FAO through a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) valued at US$400 000, the consultative process to adopt a new Land Policy began with the signing of an Memorandum of understanding between FAO and the GoZ on 13 November 2018 and the launch of the review process on 28 November 2019 in Mutare.
After close to a year of consultations, a draft National Land Policy Framework discussion document, has been developed. The provincial consultation meetings which began in Bindura on Wednesday are meant to give all stakeholders meaningful participation and inclusion in the review of the document and development of the land policy.
The Gender Sensitive Land Policy seeks to enhance equal access to land, productivity and sustainable utilization of land and will also take into cognizance various global discourse and benchmarks. Including addressing challenges being faced by women and young people, chief among them, lack of access to land and security of tenure.
Participants – including government officials, members of the private sector, academic institutions, farmers and community led organizations – attending the first consultative meeting said that the policy will also 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.
In her welcoming remarks, mindful that, investing in a thorough, wide-ranging engagement process with meaningful participation and inclusion of all interested stakeholders will deepen ownership and commitment, critical for the implementation process of the policy. The Mashonaland Central Resident Minister Honourable Monicah Mavhunga highlighted that the, “Land policy formulation should be a participatory process, if the outcome has to be politically acceptable, technically sound, pro-poor and enforceable.”
Hon. Mavhunga added that the current land management system was like a spaghetti bowl, as land planning systems are managed by different ministries and authorities. Making land use planning a convoluted exercise. She emphasized that weak land administration systems had contributed to the challenges that Zimbabwe is facing in terms of landownership rights, illegal settlements and land conflicts.
“Weak land administration systems have contributed to the challenges of illegal settlements; deforestation; land degradation; farm boundary disputes; as well as conflicts between different land uses including mining, forestry, tourism, and urban expansion,” said Hon Mavhunga.
Delegates attending the consultative meeting added that land administration, use and management influences farmers’ and investors’ access to and security of tenure and have potential to undermine food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and economic growth through its negative impact on flow of investment into agriculture.
Delegates also highlighted that the land issue is central to Zimbabwe’s social and economic development, and that the land policy was key for the social economic transformation of Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income status by 2030. The land policy is envisaged to not only solve the challenges that the Honourable Minister and delegates highlighted, but will be inclusive and comprehensive; addressing not only land tenure issues but also covering gender issues, fisheries and forests.