OVER 1,000 occupants of a Zambia Wildlife Authority game management area (GMA) have challenged the Government over the piece of land from which they have been evicted, demanding proof of ownership.
According to court documents filed at the Lusaka High Court, Peter Mainza on behalf of residents of villages in the Nansenga area of Mulendema chiefdom in Mumbwa’s game reserve area, have challenged ZAWA over their eviction from the piece of land they have occupied for many years.
According to their submissions, Mr Mainza said all the claims presented by the wildlife authority were false as they did not provide proof about the occupants and the eviction of the settlers.
“That on 26th August 2015, at around 0600hours in the Mumbwa Game Management Area 14, the defendants’ officers forcibly evicted all the plaintiffs by burning our homesteads, granaries and severally beating us, while confiscating, inter alia, our chickens, goats, pigeons and groundnuts.
“That our group has been in the area for many years and we are not part of the influx of illegal settlers that have flocked into the subject Game Management Area,” they said.
They complained that their eviction was appalling coming from ZAWA to subject innocent people including children to such inhumane treatment after the initial application was thrown out.
But ZAWA area wadern for Kafue National Park, Lewis Daka in his affidavit in opposition for the application for an order of mandatory injunction, denied carrying out the eviction, despite there being anything to prevent them carry out such action based on the provisions of the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 12 of 1998 which required settlement in the GMA to be accordance with the Game Management Plan (GMP).
He explained that according to the GMP the area in question was a conservation zone, and not a human settlement area which was only permitted in development zones.
He said the occupants illegally encroached into the area sometime in 2008 long after the area had already been gazetted as a GMA.
“That contrary to paragraph 6, the plaintiffs have left the area. The plaintiff has commenced a matter in the Lands Tribunal where a consent order was settled and alternative land would be secured for the households which had been screened by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit under the office of the Vice President.
“That the plaintiffs refused to accept the alternative land but instead commended two separate actions to challenge the validity of the consent order,” he said.
He claimed that the authority did not engage in any violent acts or assaulting or subjecting the complainants to inhuman treatment.