Zimbabwe Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the country will not issue title deeds to people in rural areas as well and resettled agricultural land because the land belongs to the people and should not be sold.
He was responding to a series of questions from legislators who demanded that those who had stayed in council houses since the 1960s as well as those staying in rural areas should be issued title deeds.
“There is a difference between the processes that we are doing to issue title deeds to urban dwellers and the land tenure system within agricultural and communal areas. We are issuing title deeds in urban areas because that is exactly what is supposed to have been there within the confines of the laws currently. That exercise is being done to satisfy what should have been done. So there is a separation between that and the issue of title deeds and the land tenure system within communal areas and where we have rural land for agriculture,” he said.
“Coming to the issue of title deeds within the communal areas and other designated land tenure systems that is a conversation that as Zimbabweans we can start but currently, the communal land is vested in the President. It is for the people and should not be sold. Equally, agricultural land, we have a tenure system that obtains now of offer letters and 99-year leases. That is what is obtaining but the Hon. Member is not precluded from starting a conversation to say let us come up with a different land tenure system.
“If a policy is adopted in that regard then we can move in that direction but the urban title deed process, let us not mix it with historical issues that arose out of the land tenure system that was brought upon by the colonisers.”
Full Q & A:
HON. MATSUNGA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. How far has Government gone with processing of title deeds of houses which were built in the 1960s where you find people still paying council fees without title deeds? These houses were occupied by our parents before we were born but up to now, there are no title deeds yet they are the owners of these houses. What is Government doing regarding that?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. The issue of title deeds is under the purview of the Ministry of Justice.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The issue of title deeds has been discussed and His Excellency, the President mentioned that we have a lot of people in different towns who are living without title deeds. He formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee which I Chair, that includes the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and other Ministries. We thought it was easy just to issue title deeds but there are some issues that need due diligence so that we do not give title deeds to people who are not deserving. We have a committee which is moving around. At the moment we have identified 6000 households in Epworth. The team is going door to door to check that the information which is at the local board and the documentation that they have is the same so that when we issue title deeds, we issue them to the correct people. The verification and review process is cumbersome but we are doing our best so that we take it to other areas like Glenview, Highfield and other areas where we find people occupying houses without title deeds so that they have collateral also.
HON. MATSUNGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister …
Hon. Chidakwa having been conversing with some Members loudly
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member behind the seat there, can you leave the House. Can you leave the House! Do not disturb the Hon. Member who is speaking. You were making noise there. Can you go out – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
Hon. Chidakwa walked out of the House.
HON. MATSUNGA: My supplementary question is, Hon. Minister, do you know that Epworth is a new location? Locations like Mufakose, Glenview and Highfield are older than Epworth. These were built in the 60s, earlier than Epworth. These are areas where there are houses and you will find that there are houses in Epworth which are not on plans. You cannot compare these to the locations that I am talking about which are locations which have houses on plans.
HON. ZIYAMBI: The houses that the Hon. Member is mentioning are houses which are different from Glenview. We agreed that this should be applied to different locations. The City of Harare is responsible for these procedures. However, His Excellency the President said that because the City of Harare is failing to do this, it was decided that we are not going to choose whether it is Epworth, Glenview, Gwanda or any other location but we are planning anew, considering every urban location. So we are starting with the first location being Epworth then we are going to spread the programme to the other areas. I thank you.
HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is, he said in this House under oath that the Government is now taking over zvikwereti zvese zvekumashure zvaibhadharwa nevanhu.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Did you say under oath?
HON. MUNENGAMI: Yes, because if he is here, is it not that he is under oath in whatever he says? What we want Hon. Speaker is clarification. The Hon. Minister said that all the money that is owed…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Ask your question.
HON. MUNENGAMI: My question to the Hon. Minister is that the debts that you referred to in this august House and you said that Government is taking over the debts which were owed by citizens of the nation is what you are taking about.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Honourable what is the question?
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. With due respect, Hon. Paradza has not been around for a long time Mr. Speaker. I think we need to be very clear and fair. Hon. Paradza does not come here to Parliament. When he comes, he wants to make noise. He sits at the corner with Hon. Matangira there. They are there. They are strategically positioned to make noise. Being a former headmaster, bring them here so that you can watch them. When children are naughty in class, the one who is naughty is monitored. I therefore recommend you bring them close here so that they can behave themselves. He is disastrous. He is a member of the youth, but a shame to the ZANU PF Politburo. He must behave himself. He must behave like a member of the ruling party Politburo. This is nonsense to the youth. He is the leader of the youth, so what example is he setting? Musatore zvigaro kana musina kudzidza vana Paradza – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Paradza, where are you? It is John Paradza. If you are going to be recognised now you will be out. Thank you.
HON. MAVETERA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. Hon. Mliswa said he is a disgrace to the youth. May he please withdraw those words. As the ruling party, we have elected him as our leader. He has no right to say that we made a mistake. He has to withdraw. He is our leader as a party and that is what we have decided. He has to withdraw. Thank you Mr. Speaker. It is only fair for him to withdraw because it is also a disgrace to us as a party. He has to withdraw – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! I have understood the context of that statement. He said as a youth he must be disciplined. There is nothing wrong with that.
HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I would like to ask the Hon. Minister that – is Government going to cancel all the debts so that Government clears the debts?
HON. ZIYAMBI: When I was explaining I said that what we are doing regarding the title deeds is that there are monies which are supposed to be paid and the President is saying that for people who have occupied these houses for a long time, Government is going to clear the fees for the processing of title deeds, for instance, surveys and plans and the verification process of the identities of the title deed holders. This will be done so that there is physical inspection to determine the person who is going to receive the title deeds. We do not want to issue title deeds to the wrong people.
These are processes which need funding. This is what Government is saying so that our people have title deeds which will benefit their families. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to know from the Hon. Minister the issue of timelines. The houses in question belong to the old aged and what is happening is, the councilors and the council officials are busy taking over these houses from those that would have passed on at the detriment and much to the chagrin of the families of our dearly departed. How much time do we expect that this exercise will be completed so that our people can and must not be unfairly disenfranchised after the demise of their dearly departed old aged owners of the houses, kana yava nyaya yechirungu.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Sit down, please do not make noise when you have asked a good question.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Hon. Speaker, I want to thank the Hon. Member. At this juncture, I am extremely hesitant to give timelines. It is an exercise that we are learning every day. Initially, I thought we could do it extremely fast but we realise that we need to follow all the processes and it is an exercise that we are starting to do now, it has never been done. So, I believe that after the pilot project in Epworth, we will be able to now say we can do Caledonia within a month or within three weeks. As of now, I am cautious not to give timelines. I thank you.
HON. MURAI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister is that I want to know the factors you consider when giving these title deeds to people?
THE HON. SPEAKER: Do you want factors or criteria?
HON. MURAI: Factors or criteria, to say of late…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you, we got the question.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The initial criteria is in every local authority area, the local authority is aware of people who are staying in houses but they do not have title deeds. The first port of call is to ensure that they visit the said local authority and get from their database, names of who occupy houses in that particular locality. There are visits to verify if indeed those people are the bonafide owners of those places. Once all that has been done, we then go further to start processing the papers so that the necessary deeds can come out.
HON. BITI: My question is directed to the Leader of the House, Hon. Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice. Minister, I was very pleased with the indications and the Government actions that are being taken towards the provision of title deeds to urban dwellers, but 70% of our people actually live in communal lands occupying about 19 million hectares of land. Despite the war of liberation that we fought, people in communal lands actually do not have land rights. Section 4 of the Communal Lands Act actually diverts them from land. As a person who comes from Dotito, I am wondering – yes it is okay to give title deeds to people in Mufakose, Glenview and Vhengere but what about us in Murewa South, Dotito and Chiendambuya whose land was taken away by white people and dispossessed through the Land Apportionment Act of 1941? Up to now – 43 years after independence, we cannot own land in our own rural areas. We now have Chinese people and the likes of Billy Rautenbach coming to take our land. Can you address the issue of our own land rights for us people who live in communal lands?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker for the question that Hon. Biti asked. My response is that there is a difference between the processes that we are doing to issue title deeds to urban dwellers and the land tenure system within agricultural and communal areas. We are issuing title deeds in urban areas because that is exactly what is supposed to have been there within the confines of the laws currently. That exercise is being done to satisfy what should have been done. So there is a separation between that and the issue of title deeds and the land tenure system within communal areas and where we have rural land for agriculture.
Coming to the issue of title deeds within the communal areas and other designated land tenure systems that is a conversation that as Zimbabweans we can start but currently, the communal land is vested in the President. It is for the people and should not be sold. Equally, agricultural land, we have a tenure system that obtains now of offer letters and 99-year leases. That is what is obtaining but the Hon. Member is not precluded from starting a conversation to say let us come up with a different land tenure system. If a policy is adopted in that regard then we can move in that direction but the urban title deed process, let us not mix it with historical issues that arose out of the land tenure system that was brought upon by the colonisers. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Madam Speaker ma’am, I would like to pose my supplementary question to the Minister. We went for war to fight for land and the Hon. Minister is saying that every citizen of this country has the right to own a house in whatever part of the country. However, people are not getting the land and you find some people coming to take away that land, claiming to be owners of that land. We need to examine the land tenure policy because we had people playing different roles as war collaborators and war veterans but you find that even village heads and traditional leaders are not empowered to deal with land tenure issues; for those who come from rural areas and need land. Some have their ancestors’ graves in different localities but do not have legal right to that land. I thank you.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Member for the supplementary question. People did not go to war because of title deeds but it was an issue of right to land, which is a very critical issue. We want to compare title deeds in urban centres with land in the rural areas. I do not believe that the Chinese are taking over people’s land, whether it is those in mining or farming. When the Mines and Minerals Act comes to this august House, it is going to clarify a lot of issues. However, land in the rural areas is not sold. There are Chinese or white people who are taking over such land and no one is selling such land to them but there are people who were coming to prospect for minerals. You will discover that the Hon. Member has a right to engage us in how the Land Tenure Act should be reviewed. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to know, if it pleases the Hon. Minister, to attach Section 72 (7) (c) of the Constitution which is the background of the issue of this land. The land which is agricultural is the one that has now been urbanised through the master plan for the urban expansion. So the urban land is now residing in the agricultural land. Fast forward, when you now bring the agricultural land into the urban society, Section 205 (1) (c) of the Urban Councils Act has three provisions that speak to selling the land, leasing and also giving it for free. Section 152 (1) (a) of the same Urban Councils Act speaks to those three issues as well. Would it please the Minister to align those provisions of the Act of Parliament to the Constitution, which is sui-generis? Section 2 says it should be repudiated to the extent of inconsistency if it is inconsistent with the Constitution so that the 10 hectares of land which is being given for free in the agricultural land can also be given with title for free in the urban society. Would it please the Minister that the 10hectares which is now 100 000 ha and if it is sold to the urbanites costs US$25 million which all the civil servants will not have? Would it please the Minister to align those provisions of the Act of Parliament with the Constitution so that the people can at least have 200sq meters of agricultural land which has title deeds, which land is being given for free to the agricultural society? The urbanites are made to buy that land because we have not aligned the Urban Councils Act with the Constitution. Would it please the Minister to give title to the agricultural land to the urbanites in the same way that we are giving title to those that are in the rural side? I say this with conviction because I have also been incarcerated for misalignment.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Hon. Speaker ma’am. I am not too sure I understood what Hon. Nduna is trying to say. We have urban land that will be designated by the relevant Minister as urban land. Then we have communal land and agricultural land. The Minister of Lands and Agriculture is the one who transfers the land upon gazetting when it has been designated urban land. Once it is urban land, then it can be subdivided and there will be value addition because you need to do the necessary processes to ensure that people stay in that particular area. So, let us differentiate land that has been converted for urban development to agricultural land and State land that is vested with the Minister of Lands and Agriculture.
My position is, we have a land tenure system within the communal land and our agricultural sector that exists. If we need a conversation of changing that, then as a people, we can start that conversation. However, currently we have a system that is there and let us not confuse it either with our war of liberation or our incarceration or whatever. It is the system that is there now. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Point of clarity Madam Speaker Ma’am. Will it please the Minister to align those provisions of the Urban Councils Act expeditiously with the Constitution? That question has not been answered.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Your problem Hon. Nduna is that you do not ask a straight forward question but you go round in circles.
HON. NDUNA: It is not for the faint hearted Madam Speaker Ma’am. Let him take his time.
Hon. GONESE: Thank you Madam Speaker for recognising me but it looks like the Hon. Minister has just dashed out of the building. I will just ask the question, I do not know whether there is an Acting Leader of the House who can take up the question.
The Hon. Deputy Speaker conferred with the Government Chief Whip.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry Hon. Gonese; I am being advised that the Hon. Minister has been called by the Speaker.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs having returned to the Chamber
HON. GONESE: He has just come in; he has come in now Madam Speaker, saved by the bell. My supplementary question to the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is: is the Hon. Minister not aware that this conversation relating to title deeds both in respect of agricultural and communal land started ages ago, as long back as 2000 when the Land Reform Programme started? As the Opposition, we were very clear that in order to empower people who were getting land, people should get title deeds. I do not know whether the Hon. Minister was in this country when that conversation started?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Ask your question Hon. Gonese.
HON. GONESE: I want to find out from the Hon. Minister that since this is a conversation that has been topical in this country, what is Government thinking because Government must also have a thinking in respect of that particular aspect; in terms of empowering the people of Zimbabwe who reside in agricultural and communal lands and were allocated stands? In fact, the issue of the 99-Year Leases not being bankable was actually raised, and was one of the critical issues…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It seems as if you are debating Hon. Gonese. Why can you not just ask your question Hon. Gonese?
HON. GONESE: Yes, I am asking the Hon. Minister to indicate as to whether he is not aware that this conversation started ages ago? More importantly, what is Government’s thinking about it as it is something that has been topical in this country?
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. Our thinking is that we have a functional system that is open to improvements.
Source: The Insider