Renowned Harare-based constitutional law expert, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said that Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021, gazetted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government last week, is unlawful, unconstitutional and reflect a “colonial mentality”.
The statutory instrument ordered more than 1 000 mainly Shangaan/Tsonga families in Chilonga, Chiredzi District, to “depart permanently” from the gazetted 6 000 land hectarage that would be used to farm lucerne grass for stock feed. Said Madhuku:
That statutory instrument is unconstitutional; it is based on an unconstitutional understanding of the powers of government over communal land.
The colonial mentality which is still reflected in the statute is that communal land belongs to the State, and is owned by the president.
But that right which is given to the president is not equivalent to the ordinary right of ownership, which other people use.
If you are an owner of land you can easily displace anyone or remove anyone, that is not the case.
Communal land rights are somewhat special rights, communal people cannot be displaced merely at the whims of government.
Madhuku added that the government should have approached the High Court and state its reasons and then getting an appropriate order for those people to be moved to a different place.
Dendairy, a dairy company owned by a white farmer, Neville Coetzee, who has links with President Emmerson Mnangagwa was allotted the land for its lucerne grass project.