Traditional chiefs have insisted that they are the custodians of land that is not communal despite an adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) on the Land Commission Bill.
President of the Chiefs’ Council, Senator Fortune Charumbira, recently deferred debate on the Bill until the Senate resumes sitting in May.
He said the issue still needed to be discussed when Parliament resumes, arguing that the Constitution gives chiefs powers over communal and other land.
Before the Senate adjourned for the Easter holidays, the PLC had rejected the chiefs’ proposals to amend clause 3 of the Bill in order to allow for the National Council of Chiefs to submit names of two traditional leaders to be appointed to the commission.
Chief Charumbira said whenever the PLC produced an adverse report, they would be making a proposal and not a ruling, and, therefore, it was up to the Senate to accept or reject that proposal.
"The Constitution in section 282(2) is very clear and it says traditional leaders will be in charge of communal land including any other land, which has been given to them, and so it is not correct in terms of the same Constitution to say they cannot be in charge of resettlements," Chief Charumbira said.
"Besides, it is already in the Traditional Leaders Act, and we have more than 15 chiefs today whose jurisdiction is squarely resettlement areas. The finding that chiefs cannot be in charge — to us — and even in the reading of the Constitution is not correct and we are saying we must discuss this," he said.
"The PLC is expressing an opinion and not making a ruling. It is up to the Senate to agree or disagree and what the House says stands."
PLC chairperson, Jonathan Samukange said the decisions or views taken by the chieftainship might be considered by the PLC when Parliament resumes in May.
"If we are convinced that indeed they are right and we are wrong, we may have to withdraw our adverse report. On the other hand, the other scenario is that our objection may be amended. The third scenario is that we may stick to our original position, and if that happens, we will need to come back as PLC and address the Senate on the way we look at the amendment," Samukange said.