Opposition Members of Parliament on Wednesday criticised the government over the introduction of Statutory Instrument (SI) 62 of 2020, gazetted on Friday, which empowers the President to return expropriated farms to former owners.
Independent lawmaker Temba Mliswa said the government was being inconsistent on its land policy as the SI was a violation of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister Tendai Biti also pointed out the unconstitutionality of the new measures. He said:
… the net effect of SI 62 of 2020 is to allow the government to take back the land it had already given to people during the land reform programme to its original owners.
There are two categories mentioned in Section 4; ‘these are indigenous original black farmers whose land was taken and secondly, are BIPA owners (land that was protected under BIPA agreements).
The SI says that land must go back to its original owners but there two problems.
The land belongs to the State as said by the deputy minister, but it only belongs to the state by virtue of constitutional amendment number seven (7) of 2005 which says all land that was gazetted now belongs to the government.
It was put in the seventh schedule of the constitution; so, in order to take land that was gazetted and give it to someone, you actually need a constitutional amendment to take away the land from the seventh schedule. What you are doing is very unconstitutional.
In response, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said that the farms were protected by BIPA and since the government lost a court case in arbitration, it was negotiating with those who formally owned the farms.