By Prudence Nhau

Zimbabwe has a number of laws that regulate the ownership, use, and acquisition of land and more broadly property. However, it is the Constitution which is the supreme law of Zimbabwe that guides all land and property issues in the country.

Property rights are provided for in section 71 of the Constitution Amendment (No.20) Act 2013. The relevant sections are below:

71 Property Rights

(2) Subject to section 72, every person has the right, in any part of Zimbabwe, to acquire, hold, occupy, use, transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose of all forms of property, either individually or in association with others.

(3) Subject to this section and to section 72, no person may be compulsorily deprived of their property except where the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) the deprivation is in terms of a law of general application;

(b) the deprivation is necessary for any of the following reasons:

(i) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, or town and country planning; or

(ii) in order to develop or use that or any other property for a purpose beneficial to the community;

These sections give property owners the right to use their property, including land as they please, subject to other constitutional provisions. In addition to these rights, the constitution affords them certain protections.

Section 71 (3) prohibits 'compulsory deprivation' of property unless the listed conditions are satisfied. In other words, it provides that the State can, under certain conditions acquire a person's property.

This means that land and property ownership is otherwise constitutionally regulated meaning in situations where conflicts and tensions arise over land and other forms of property, these should be resolved with an understanding of the regulation of land and property rights in Zimbabwe.