Historically, land tenure has been controversial in Zimbabwe. At the moment the main legal challenge for rural communities is weak tenure rights over communal land which is state owned. Land grabbing and evictions driven by private actors getting land for mining or large scale agricultural projects such as biofuels are increasingly becoming an issue of concern. When acquiring communal land little or no effort is made to apply the concept of free, prior informed consent (FPIC). The Chisumbanje biofuels project is a case in point where villagers are fighting against loss of land to investors. There is need to pay particular attention to land ownership and use rights in communal areas.
At the moment the main legal challenge for rural communities is weak tenure rights over communal land which is state owned.
While the fast track land reform programme benefited some productive communities who accessed agricultural land, it also generated challenges related to implementation. The process lacked transparency and accountability and equity. For example, despite the one-man one-farm policy some leaders have more than one farm and some dispossess poor resettled families. Further, some agricultural farms have been abandoned or lying idle after beneficiaries failed to get support or inputs from government. These factors make a land audit as prescribed in the new Constitution necessary. However, the land commission has not yet been established to undertake the land audit. A lot of research and advocacy work is needed in the next five years to influence legal and policy processes in the land sector. Further, the rights of farmers are not fully protected by the law and the concept of intellectual property rights is not fully understood by communal farmers. Traditional seed exchange systems, organic farming, the environment and health may be under threat from genetically modified crops. Some cash crop farmers on contract farming require legal support so that they are not short-changed by get rich quick buyers and marketers of cash crops especially in the tobacco or cotton sector. These issues merit further research and advocacy in the coming five years in partnership with other civil society groups.