Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Chipinge South legislator, Clifford Hlatywayo

AN opposition legislator has called for the enactment of a law guaranteeing security of tenure for all land following the recent evictions of villagers from their communal lands.

The evictions have raised questions on the rights of people who live in communal lands.

Hundreds of villagers were left stranded after they were evicted from their homes deemed State land.

The government justified the evictions, running an operation titled No to Land Barons, accusing the villagers of having occupied the land illegally.

According to the government, section 10 of the Communal Lands Act authorises the Local Government minister to set aside communal land for any purpose, after consultation with the local rural district council.

The law permits the minister to order evictions, under certain limited circumstances, including with reasonable notice and compliance with the country’s Constitution.

Section 74 of the constitution, however, prohibits eviction in the absence of a court order issued after considering all the relevant circumstances.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Chipinge South legislator, Clifford Hlatywayo, last week raised a motion in Parliament calling for a law guaranteeing land tenure security.

Hlatwayo said the current Communal Lands Act fails to grant title deeds to rural communities and exposed them to arbitrary evictions.

“This house resolves that the government should enact a law providing security of tenure to all the land, including communal land, in line with Section 292 of the Constitution,” Hlatwayo said in his submissions on Wednesday.

“The current provisions of the Communal Lands Act do not grant title to rural communities in Zimbabwe, and this has proven to be a hindrance to their potential for investments and development.”

“This limitation is against the right to development in line with the national objective of our Constitution and with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights,” the CCC MP said.

He said the abuse of the Communal Lands Act was an affront to development as outlined under Section 13 of the Constitution.

“The right to development gives all persons an entitlement to participation, contribution and enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and political development,” he said.

“The right to development is a peremptory norm in international law to the extent that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights protects the right to development in Article 22.”

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights says that communities’ traditional and collective ownership of land should be recognised and protected under the right to property.

This includes protecting communities from forced evictions.

The UN Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights defines forced evictions as “the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection.” — NewsDay

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