Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Zimbabwe Land Commission has urged couples to ensure that ownership of their land reflects that it is jointly owned to protect the remaining spouses, especially women from being displaced in the event of death.
Surviving spouses can now inherit land if its ownership is registered under the new land tenure system.
To bring relief to mostly women who end up losing their source of livelihood and shelter once their husbands die, people are being urged to apply for joint ownership of the land as Government issues farm offer letters.
Addressing women farmers, during a land dialogue meeting attended by Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement officials and Parliamentarians in Gweru yesterday, Zimbabwe Land Commission Land Audit Manager Mr Kelman Taruvinga said spouses who benefited from the land reform ought to ensure that there is a plan for the surviving spouse to inherit the land in the event of death.
Mr Taruvinga said the new land policy protects both spouses in the event of death.
He said A1 and A2 farmers can register on the offer letter their spouse or spouses in case of a polygamous relationship to guarantee tenure of occupancy.
“Husbands and wives can apply for joint ownership of the land to guarantee their stay on the land in the event of death of the husband. There are a lot of times when women cry foul when they are evicted from the land when their husbands who had their name on the offer letter die. That can be avoided when they register and that is recommended. We urge you people with offer letters to register with your spouse or spouses so that no one moves you from your land,” he said.
Mr Taruvinga said every Zimbabwean has a right to land.
He said since it is a finite resource, there is need for balanced allocation of the resource to benefit Zimbabweans especially women, youths and the disabled.
Mrs Betina Marange a farmer from Gweru said following the death of her husband in 2006, many people have come to her farm trying to evict her.
She said her late husband had not applied to Government to have her name included on the offer letter.
“I’m having challenges with people coming to say I must vacate the land. They are taking advantage of the fact that my husband died and I now realise how important it is to have the names of husbands and wives on the offer letters,” she said.
Women and Land in Zimbabwe (WLZ) programmes officer Ms Sharon Chipunza said they are working with women across the country to assist them realise their full potential on the land.
She said woman ought to be proactive and make sure they read and understand what is written on land offer letters.
“Land is an important resource which is in demand and unscrupulous people will take advantage where and when there is a loophole. It is paramount that women make sure that they have their names on the offer letters from Government,” said Ms Chipunza.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission has dealt with several land disputes that include ownership of land upon divorce or death , double allocations, boundary disputes, settlement on grazing land, among others.
Government is embarking on a farm resizing programme, a move that will see more people having access to land.
The reduction in farm sizes will also boost capacity utilisation of land following concerns that some farms were unnecessarily big and under-utilised.
Government compulsorily acquired over 12 million hectares of arable land previously occupied by white farmers, resulting in some black beneficiaries getting vast swathes of land they cannot put to effective use.
The downsizing of farms, which has been ongoing, starts with recommendations from the respective provincial lands committees.