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Kereke guns for Tongaat

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MP Munyaradzi Kereke
MP Munyaradzi Kereke

Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke (Zanu PF) yesterday took a dig on giant sugar producer Tongaat Hulett saying the company has amassed vast tracts of land at the expense of peasant farmers in Masvingo Province.

BY STAFF REPORTER

Kereke made the remarks in the National Assembly while debating on a motion seeking harmonisation of the Mines and Minerals Act and the Lands Acquisition Act, which caused farmers and miners to be in conflict.

The motion was introduced last week by Chegutu West MP Dextor Nduna.

Kereke warned that if the two Acts were not harmonised urgently there was likely to be serious conflicts. He said there was danger of desecration of graves and other revered areas by communities in search of precious minerals.

“We need equality across the board in terms of how individual households and companies are treated in terms of ownership of land because in Masvingo we have 96 000 hectares of land owned by a big sugar company, and regulations have been promulgated saying for A2 farmers to operate they needed to pay $5 per hectare,” Kereke said in apparent reference to Tongaat Hulett.

“We are informed this company has suggested it will pay $10 per hectare and negotiate some special lease, which will give them title to the land.

“The Ministry of Agriculture is on record indicating that the reasons why they were giving this company a special permit was that their investment was long-term, but there is potential danger as the insinuation is that all A2 farmers cannot invest long-term.

“We cannot have a company paying fees per annum yet they hold vast barren land,”he said.

Kereke said a foreign-owned company could not be given favours ahead of locals.

“We cannot have multi-national companies being preferred to make their projects bankable at the expense of peasant farmers,”he said.

“It dilutes the provisions of the Constitution which says agricultural land is State land. We should look at firms and individuals in a partial manner or we will lose the gains of the liberation struggle and ignite conflict.”

Bubi MP Clifford Sibanda (Zanu PF) said the two Acts were in serious conflict, adding wherever there were minerals on farm land, it was mining which took precedence over agricultural activities.

“The Mines and Minerals Act was brought by colonialists in the 18th century under the banner of the Rudd Concession and people can be displaced without meaningful compensation because minerals take precedence,” he said.

“Government should come up with a law that gives fair compensation to people affected by mineral activities. In Bubi we have potential conflict because 90% of land there was pegged as mining land.”

MP for Uzumba Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF) said in areas where farm land had minerals, farmers opted to do mining and ditched agriculture.

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