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Clergy predicts spike in land disputes

by Staff reporter
16 Oct 2020 at 07:04hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) has warned of a looming spike in land ownership wrangles between landless Zimbabweans and white former commercial farmers after the government signed a US$3,5 billion compensation deal with white former commercial farmers.

ZCA director Useni Sibanda on Wednesday said if not properly handled, the looming land clashes could lead to a bloodbath as was witnessed at the turn of the millennium when then President Robert Mugabe launched the land reform programme.

Sibanda said his organisation had set up peace committees in Bulawayo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South provinces in order to deal with community conflicts and land disputes.

Government in July this year agreed to pay US$3,5 billion compensation to white former commercial farmers whose land was expropriated during the 2000 land reform programme.

The compensation is for improvements made on the farms.

The cash-strapped government said it would approach international donors to fund the compensation for about 4 500 white commercial farmers who were displaced in order to resettle around 300 000 black families.

"That is going to be a major source of conflict, and remember that there were serious conflicts associated with the fasttrack land reform programme," Sibanda said.

"We fear an emerging conflict over land ownership following the signing of this deal, and on a larger scale than witnessed during the land reform programme."

He said peace committees needed to be ready and strengthened to deal with conflict issues that keep emerging.

"For example, in Midlands, there is news of machete gangs resurfacing, genderbased violence cases are on the rise while we also foresee conflicts related to land ownership and resettlement emerging. We are talking of those people who already have a life and roots in those communities where they were resettled in 2000 and who will now be told to vacate those properties ... this issue is a major conflict zone."

Under the deal, the white former commercial farmers can still apply to return to their properties, a development that the ZCA said would trigger fresh conflicts.

Section 295 of the Constitution speaks to the need to compensate white former commercial farmers for farm improvements after losing their properties during the often violent land reform programme.

Source - newsday

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