GOVERNMENT must grant title deeds to communal land owners in order to transform their lives, headman Talkmore Mupambawahle of Makoni District in Manicaland has said.
The outspoken London based headman, in an interview last week Tuesday with Easterntimeszim, called on government to issue title deeds for communal land owners so that rural people get value from their ancestral land. He said every communal farmer must have a title deed on their land so that they can monetise their asset called land.
Currently all rural land is classified as State land. Headman Mupambawahle said rural people occupy about 60 percent of the country’s population but have no title deeds to make their land transferable and bankable. Following the land reform programme in 2000, all tittle deeds on formerly white owned farms were cancelled and the resettled farmers were issued with offer letters only. Government has been reluctant to issue title deeds to the new black farmers. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared there was no going back on the land reform. Currently, beneficiaries have 99-year leases that banks have been unwilling to take as collateral.
“60 percent of Zimbabwean land is in the hands of rural people but the unfortunate part is that they don’t own it, the State does. The current status quo is unsustainable because it is not improving or benefiting rural people in any way, even the country as a whole. Land is the key source of livelihood for rural people and not having title deeds on it is a huge blow to their economic empowerment. The existing land tenure policies are stripping them their dignity, making them more of second class citizens, ” said headman Mupambawahle.
Adding,“As a nation I think it is high time we debate about the land issue in a mature and civilized manner to find better ways to address it. Rural people must have security over their land for them to enjoy it without insecurity of not owning the land.”
The headman added that to achieve the upper middle income economy vision by 2030, the agriculture has to be mainstreamed and communal land has to be made bankable. “Let us make things happen for our rural people. Deeds are not just for economic empowerment, but a right for citizens to property that they own. Denying rural people that fundamental right is causing extreme poverty, government and donor dependency, social instability, rural migration and land abandonment,” he said.
Headman Mupambawahle said although many communal farmers do not have the means and expertise to make the land viable, programmes can be rolled out through agriculture extension officers and other stakeholders to ensure they are equipped with resources to make the land productive.
“The land issue is a controversial topic in our motherland. Blood was spilled because of it and we are divided as a nation because of it. Full ownership of rural land by rural people bring into play social, technical, economic, institutional and political aspects that are often ignore, but if they are taken into consideration this will make the country prosper.”