There is very urgent need for major land reforms to protect millions of Zambians who may be deprived of land because they are ignorant of procedures for land acquisition.
Most peasants tilling the land in many parts of the country have no clue that they require title to lay any meaningful claim to the land that they are working and are therefore shocked when Title holders evict them from the land they may have occupied for many years.
A number of villagers in Eastern Province have been evicted because their land has been given to a title holding investor.
This is wrong.
Zambians cannot live as refugees in their own country. No Zambian with a legitimate ancestral claim should be displaced on account of a title deed that is obtained without his knowledge. Every Zambian must be must be given the right of first refusal before a chief, Government or indeed any authority displaces him.
Villagers and peasants must be protected from the land rampage and craze that has hit the country. Villagers in particular should not be subjected to the caprice of Chiefs who have become notorious for giving away thousands of hectares of land to “investors”
The whole ideas of chiefs “owning” land was to ensure collective ownership, but this seems to have failed because some chiefs have treated land as their own property to give as they please. This situation is totally untenable and unhealthy because all Zambians regardless of status have equal claim tyo the land.
Therefore a more encompassing title system must be considered. Chiefs must hold land which they cannot dispose off without consulting the people over whom they preside. This is the only way that villagers will be safeguarded.
Sadly it is not only villagers who are affected by land grabs. People in town are also ambushed with the scourge of the title deed- land that is put on title without regard to the people who have been living on it for many years. The Chinika case where a company was given title to an occupied piece of land raises many concerns regarding the manner in which land is titled.
There is no question that the Lusaka City Council held the head lease for the land in question and yet the Ministry of Lands went on to process and issue title without cancelling the head lease. This is an anomaly that must be investigated thoroughly to eradicate fraudulent land allocation.
The Government has repeatedly promised to undertake a land audit to determine the extent to which land has been utilized in the country. This should be done with expedition to ensure that the requisite statistic guide the manner in which local people will share available arable land.
The failure to undertake this exercise will result in strife and strain as the population rises and there is less and less arable land for the new generation of Zambians.
Already the report that Choma District in Southern Province had run out of land for infrastructure development came as a great shock, because it is inconceivable that land could be so indiscriminately allocated without considering the effects.
It is disheartening that huge tracts of land in Lusaka and other parts of the country have been apportioned to so called ‘‘investors’’ who are now selling land in all manner of schemes, bordering on fraud.
Many Zambians have come to realize the importance of owning their own houses. As a result most urban dwellers are doing everything possible including settling on any vacant piece of land to build their cherished homes.
The pressure for such land will continue to grow and for a city the size of Lusaka pressure will spill to any piece of land that is seen to be vacant. The growing frustration created by huge tracts of land being owned by foreigners and those using it for commercial purposes will grow rather than diminish. Wars have been fought over land, therefore the landless should not be dismissed.
There is also a growing impression that the town and country planning function of councils has ceased to exist resulting in reckless allocation of land in a manner that defies logic as was the case in Chinika.
If such functions existed, they would be expected to be proactive by identifying and speedily allocating
What is most disturning is that people who deserve land have no chance of accessing it and if offered must fork out ridiculous sums of money as recently revealed by the Minister of Information Honourable Chishimba Kambwili.
Why should a resident in Mufumbwe pay thousands of kwacha for a bare piece of land?
We are aware that huge pieces of land in some parts of the country have been parceled out to individuals for speculative purposes.This must be stopped