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The Land Acquisition Act - Question & Answer
for Agriculture (JAG) Zimbabwe
December 12, 2002
It seems there
is still some confusion over the Land Acquisition Act and the recent
amendment to said Act. In the interests of simplicity, we have prepared
a question and answer explanation of the Act and its ramifications.
In the legal
revolution you must keep ahead of the game. Some common questions
and answers regarding the Land Acquisition Act which now AFFECTS
MANY URBAN DWELLERS TOO:
is a Section 5 Notice?
A Section 5 Notice is a preliminary notice of acquisition, which
must be "gazetted" and put in an official newspaper twice in consecutive
weeks. You should also receive Section 5 Notice papers delivered
within thirty days of the gazetting which you should sign a Certificate
of Service for. The Section 5 Notice is valid for two years from
date of gazetting.
Q2. Who is
eligible for a Section 5 Notice?
The October 2002 amendment (No2) to the act allows any title deed
in excess of two hectares, which has been under agricultural use
any time in the preceding fifty years to be acquired for the resettlement
programme. This includes LARGE PARTS OF HARARE, BULAWAYO AND OTHER
do I do after receiving a Section 5 Notice?
You have thirty days from the gazetting to lodge a letter of objection
with the Ministry of Agriculture if you do not wish to have your
property acquired. JAG can advise you on these letters if you decide
not to see a lawyer.
is a Section 8 Order?
A Section 8 is a compulsory acquisition order. It is a very unassuming
piece of paper without letterhead or a stamp and is signed by the
acquiring authority. In the act it gives the owner 45 days to stop
all activities and a further 45 days to move out of his home from
the date of service. Anyone with a Section 5 can receive a section
8 order 30 days after the Section 5 Notice is gazetted.
do I do if I get a Section 8 Order?
It needs to be invalidated. There are various procedural grounds
that can be used in the majority (80-90%) of cases e.g.:
- The bondholders
not being served with the Section 5 or Section 8.
- The acquiring
authority not registering the Section 8 with the Administrative
Court in the stipulated thirty days (Simon & Simon precedent)
and serving a Section 7 Order within a reasonable time period
- The Section
5 being invalid after having been in effect for more than 2 years.
- If you do
not have procedural issues as outlined above, you need to challenge
the constitutionality of the Section 8. Whatever the case you
need to see a lawyer. The precedents have been set so the expense
should not be too worrying a factor.
do I do if I have already invalidated my Section 8 and I get a new
Under the latest No 2 amendment (October 2002) you now have seven
days to get off your property. However, in a recent Harare High
Court case Z.R.P were specifically interdicted from evicting any
farmer till the administrative court had determined the individual
case regarding a specific farm. If the Z.R.P do not have a lawful
court order to evict you, they CAN NOT LEGALLY DO SO. We advise
you where possible to further challenge the 7 day Section 8 Order.
Previous flaws in the process might allow for this. Obviously this
should be done with extreme haste and farmers need to strategise
a legal challenge ahead of issuance of a 7 day Section 8 Order.
is a Section 7 Order?
These are your court papers that need to be registered at the Admin
Court within 30 working days and served on you within a reasonable
time period (14 days) of your section 8 being served on you. If
they have not been served within say 45 days, get a lawyer involved
to invalidate the process. If you are served with Section 7 papers
get them in to a lawyer immediately as you have to oppose them within
fourteen days, although your day in court may be a year or two away.
you have "your day" in the Administrative Court what are the chances
The state has only ever won two cases both of which have gone for
appeal to the Supreme Court. The state has to prove necessity of
acquisition, which is becoming more and more difficult in the light
of impending famine, economic collapse etc, also the suitability
for resettlement although under Amendment No 2 and land that has
been under agricultural use in the preceding 50 years is now deemed
is the Quinnel Case?
This is a constitutional case regarding the validity of the acquisition
process in terms of our constitution. There are 8 constitutional
points that have been raised. It should be heard early in 2003
in the Supreme Court. We need only win one of the points to win
the case outright.
should I bother with all this if my property is just going to be
acquired unlawfully as has happened in the past?
If you do not protect yourself and your property with the law you
could end up either being imprisoned or having your property acquired
in a legal manner by default. If you lose by default your future
claims for restitution or compensation will be difficult to substantiate
especially as it can be construed in law that by your silence or
doing nothing you have acquiesced to your losses.
about filling in LA3 forms and the like?
By filling in these forms you are foregoing your legal right to
object to the acquisition. This could put you in a very compromised
position when it comes to restitution or compensation, as your ownership
of your title deeds starts to become questionable. If you have already
filled in an LA3 form do NOT make further agreements. Protect your
title. Do not think you can win any agreement on the grounds of
duress. If you have time to see a lawyer it cannot be considered
a duress case. Duress in law requires immediacy.
the State just list me again if I get my Section 5 and 8 invalidated?
If your section 5 and section 8 is invalidated it is illegal for
the State to list you again for a period of 12 months. This ensures
that your title is protected and gives you time to sort the situation
out on the ground.
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