Participants following a presentation during the Harare land tenure
Harare Land Tenure Policy Engagement Workshop Report
Date: 28th May 2018 | Venue: Holiday Inn, Harare
The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) and the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZILAN) conducted policy dialogues on land tenure whose objective was to learn and share experiences of farmers with regards to land tenure while also influencing policy around this issue. During the land tenure policy dialogues, SMAIAS presented a preliminary paper on land tenure. The first dialogue was held on the 28th of May 2018 in Harare. In early June, similar dialogues took place in Bulawayo and Mutare. The meetings were attended by officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, researchers, CSOs as well as traditional leaders, farmers and farmer organisations.
During the workshop in Harare, SMAIAS’ presented its findings on a research focusing on the gender implications of changing land tenure regimes in Zimbabwe. The research findings showed that women still face challenges with regards to accessing land and that land rights available to women are limited and insecure. The presentation acknowledged that the fast track land reform program (FTLRP) had relatively improved women’s access to land since women accounted for 20.5 % of the total land beneficiaries in the newly resettlement areas. Testimonies of women farmers (from Chegutu) spoke of how they were challenging power structures in a bid to access land and inputs for their farming initiatives. Key discussions also highlighted patriarchal relations perpetuated by traditional leaders including village headmen when it comes to access and control of land as well as the allocation of agricultural resources such as inputs. The same also applied to the officials from the Ministry of Lands, who were accused of corruptly allocating land, a development which disadvantages women as they have little financial resources.
Women from the rural areas were given an opportunity to provide oral evidence of their lived experiences in relation to women’s land rights. The women narrated their struggles, of note are single women; they struggle to access and control land in a society where patriarchy is rampant. A recommendation was made on the alignment of marriage laws with reference to women’s land rights especially within a marriage context. This helps in minimising the vulnerability of the woman as a surviving spouse in the unfortunate event that the husband passes away. A call was also made for stakeholders in the land and agrarian sector and women’s rights organisations to put more effort in disseminating information on women’s rights, land laws and policies.
Two traditional leaders present at the workshop spoke on the role of traditional leadership in land administration and acknowledged the challenges that women face in relation to land access and tenure security. They further encouraged women to use the ZiLAN & SMAIAS platforms to engage with local leadership and policy makers in addressing women’s land rights challenges. During the plenary session, workshop participants called on traditional leaders to be capacitated on women’s land rights; also in discharging their roles while also calling for transparency and accountability in the way traditional leaders discharge their roles to limit the incidences of corruption in land administration.
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement presented on: Policy Focus on Land Tenure and Land Administration Issues in the New Dispensation given the government’s position on ‘being open for business’. She acknowledged the fact that rich mineral resources most of the times exist under fertile soils, thus creating a conflict between mining investors, government and the local farming communities. However, the law states that mining takes precedence over agriculture. Government has set the Zimbabwe Land Commission (ZLC) to deal with all issues relating to land disputes and to conduct a land audit. In light of the land audit, the ministry encourages women who haven’t registered for land to do so in order to increase women’s access to land. Regarding land permits, it was stated that the law allows couples to have joint registration for land but in reality, few households nationally had jointly registered land.
Following the workshop discussions and presentations, the participants at the end agreed that land should not be privatised. While land is owned by state, land should be parcelled equally and in a transparent manner. There is also need for a holistic and transformative approach to women’s land rights that encompasses institutional reforms, self-introspection as well as inclusive participation of stakeholders in the land and agrarian discourse. Also, a call was made by all for institutions to be sensitive to women and to protect women’s rights.
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